Mother! Is The Movie Everyone Is Going To Be Talking About
Some reviewers have called writer/director Darren Aronofsky’s latest movie, mother!, “a film that defies description.” It’s the ideal non-committal ruling on a film that has so far split audiences down the centre. We can all agree on the fact that mother! is a movie that stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Beyond that, it get’s a bit murky. Lawrence herself has called it the perfect date movie—not because it’ll stir up feelings of romance (it’ll do the opposite, actually), but because it will inspire debate (so make sure to make your dinner reservations for after the show—and maybe order something vegetarian).
Lawrence plays the young, insecure (and nameless) wife of a much older, successful poet (Bardem), whose writer’s block has left him frustrated and unavailable. When he welcomes another couple (Harris and Pfeiffer) into their sprawling, work-in-progress home, their instability, unpredictability, and outright cruelty soon leads you to suspect that the poet requires pain or conflict to create. Pregnancy heightens Lawrence’s peril, as everything around her, including the home she built for her family, starts to betray her love and trust in terrible ways.
If you’ve ever had one of those nightmares where you’re sobbing your face off but no one understands (or even acknowledges) your screaming, hysterical fit, mother! will look very familiar to you. Don’t know what we mean? You’re lucky. It’s awful and Lawrence manages to convey just how terrible it is through her very high-emotional-octane performance. There’s no way she got through filming without bursting numerous blood vessels in her eyes.
And mother! looks beautiful—the set design and cinematography work together to make a setting that should be serene and idyllic look ominous and eerie, as the camera stalks Lawrence through the half-refinished house, with only the creaking sound of her own footsteps to keep her company. Her husband is both present and absent, making him very difficult to trust but easy to suspect (of what? the movie leaves room for your mind to conjure up all sorts of things).
Lawrence has said that the movie is a metaphor for Mother Earth, but we don’t fully buy it. Like Nicolas Winding Refn’s visually sumptuous The Neon Demon, mother! is more compelling when viewed as commentary on fame and fandom and how the two sides feed each other—while suffocating other things.
Still, the film is from perfect. Some scenes are messy and even repetitive, doing nothing to advance the plot, express new ideas, or heighten the sense of dread. It does, however, excel at making the viewer feel as uncomfortable and vulnerable as Lawrence’s character. mother! is at its best when it’s doing its quiet, creepy thing. Still, see it on the big and loud screen.
Brace yourselves: mother! opens today. Check out the trailer below.