A Movie Review
‘Mother!’ is one of this year’s most anticipated films from one of the most visionary auteurs when it comes to atmospheric filmmaking, Darren Aronofsky. I loved ‘Requiem for a Dream’, and ‘Black Swan’ but I have yet to catch ‘The Wrestler’ to round up some of his most celebrated works. After his last film ‘Noah’ was panned by critics, which I slightly agree with, this film is sort of his moment of redemption and man, did he go all out with this one.
Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman in a secluded house with her husband, Javier Bardem, a writer/poet who is in search for inspiration to break free from his writer’s block. They may seem like a normal couple on the surface but their conversations most of the time seem cryptic and unnatural. Then comes in a doctor played by Ed Harris who seems to have stumbled into their house looking for a place to stay and is a big fan of her husband’s writing.
Lawrence finds this all too weird and as if the situation wasn’t weird enough, the next day, in comes the doctor’s wife played by Michelle Pfeiffer. She is quite catty and intrusive at times and this pushes Lawrence to ask her husband to kick the couple out. But one by one more visitors come until Lawrence reaches her breaking point and drives them all out of the house which leads to this steamy sex scene, that leads to her pregnancy. This inspires the poet to write and once it was done, Lawrence says it is perfect. But this piece of her husband brings in more people into the house which leads to even more bizarre occurrences, leading to what critics are saying is the WTF act 3 of the film.
The film is utterly gripping to say the least and the unpredictability of the events in the house makes it even more engaging as an audience as you wait with bated breath what outré circumstance would happen next. The strangeness also comes with a few thrills and scares along the way which will catch you off-guard. It is also told in Lawrence’s point of view throughout most of the film where she almost never leaves the frame as it tightly captures her every movement in the house and Lawrence is able to captivate you for over two hours as she dominates the screen. Her acting is topnotch, as usual but she demonstrates a different level of control in her portrayal almost never relying on histrionics except for a few moments when she reaches her tipping point.
It is quite a feat for an actor to hold your attention for that length of time providing different layers and degrees of emotion, considering her character has no clear backstory for the audience to base these feelings on. Bardem, Harris and Pfeiffer all provide more color and texture to compliment Lawrence’s character with their interpretations of their own personas.
The film is also littered with a lot of visual representations which just don’t seem to make sense until the final reveal at the end which will make you try to recall all the previous goings-on in the film to finally elucidate the meanings of these symbolisms and the occurrences that come with them.
This is where viewers and critics are at crossroads when it comes to the appreciation of the film. Some may find it a betrayal of sorts that mislead you into believe the surface plot while some find the allegory too blunt in the end. I guess this is where personal tastes come into play. I would have wanted the film to feel more like a real story which could stand alone yet still be a beautiful allusion to what Aronofsky was trying to accomplish.
Nevertheless. ‘Mother!’ is still quite the ride and the madness that it presents is almost altogether intoxicating. Plus, Filipino-blooded cinematographer, Matthew Libatique’s lenswork is exquisite in each frame shot on grainy film which is just so delicious to the eyes. It may not compare to some of Aronofsky’s best works but the filmmaking and storytelling is still extraordinary along with the vision that he had for it despite the flawed structure of its script.