Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a grim, panic-inducing sensory experience that is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach.
The film has powerful forces of acting from Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, whose characters are simply credited as “mother” and “him”, greatly juxtapose against the peaceful country setting upon which their unsettled Victorian house rests. The psychological thriller is somewhat heavy-handed in its approach, but this is something familiar in many of Aronofsky’s boundary-pushing past works (Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream). The film is a mysterious trek down a dimly lit path, and once the light of day is reached, it is a journey that will not be easily forgotten.
Lawrence and Bardem play a couple who contrast in both age and aspirations. Lawrence’s character ‘Mother’ wishes to settle down in the peaceful and spacious home that her poet husband once grew up in. Soon, the two become bombarded by strangers including the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris, as a result, the home begins to suffer increasing wear and tear. To say any more would be a hindrance to the effect of a film that was so strategically kept under wraps by Paramount and Aronofsky.
The film does an amazing job of presenting highly distressing situations through Lawrence’s perspective. Aronofsky is able to induce such feelings of anxiety upon first viewing via the use of sound scaping. A complete absence of score proves effective when silence is broken by muffled whispering and incessant chattering which envelopes the audience in complete parallel to the obstruction of Lawrence’s personal space.
In combination with the focused use of cinematography and outstanding acting, mother! presents an extremely disparaging and dark outlook on a whole range of thematic concerns. It is clear Aronofsky intended to leave the film open to interpretation and it should be viewed more so as an allegorical tale than an entertaining blockbuster. However, it’s somewhat misleading and pervasive marketing strategies may result in an influx of audience members expecting the latter.
mother! is a film that craftily builds up suspense and mystery to have it all come to a pass in an extremely climactic final sequence. The third act of the film will be intensely polarising for most audiences and I suspect it will be highly debated in the weeks to come. The third act was a necessary punch to the gut, it was the lurch awake experienced as I free fell through Aronofsky’s fever-dream (nightmare).
Like the blood stain on your wooden floorboards, mother! won’t be leaving your every waking thought anytime soon. Once again, Aronofsky has proved what he does best by mystifying and shocking audiences beyond recognition. In a day and age where it is easy to become desensitized to so much, Aronofsky has crafted this film so cleverly that its many ideas burrow their way under your skin, infect your thoughts and, in doing so, threaten to haunt you forever.
Rating: 4 stars
mother! is in theatres now