Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig
A wife and husband must deal with the introduction of two strangers into their seemingly normal life.
mother! is certainly deserving of its exclamation point, and could have several more as well as some question marks thrown in there too. It is a mind bending, whirl or images and sounds that the brain in the moment of watching can often struggle to comprehend, teasing subtext and edge of your seat peculiarity throughout.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a married couple (named only in the credits as Mother and Him) who live in the husbands seemingly childhood home. It is large and in the middle of nowhere, previously ravaged by a fire which still haunts the home and has been meticulously rebuilt by Lawrence’s character. This has allowed her husband to focus on his work, as a writer and poet with a creepily obsessive following and suffering with writers block.
They are quickly joined by a new doctor (Ed Harris) who was told their house was a B&B he could stay in. The wife’s apprehension is dutifully ignored by her husband who quickly invites the man to stay and starts swilling on the strangers whisky. The strangers wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up next day and is casually dismissive and outright cruel towards Lawrence, with little respect for her and her home resulting in a smashed heirloom of her husbands.
Things quickly go from bad to worse with the families sons showing up, their friends and family invading their house amongst a tragedy and smashing her immaculately planned home. All this strife somehow leads to the titular Mother’s impregnation and the seeming start of something good, before the movie takes us down a nightmarish, whirlwind of insanity and seemingly religious allegory.
In a movie where her character is not entirely fleshed out beyond “housewife” Lawrence makes this movie her own, her expressions often mirroring the confusion and perplexed feelings we as an audience have towards her husbands continual ambivalence to her wants and needs. Bardem patronises her with a benign and seemingly warm smile that makes his anger and stoicism even more pronounced when we wields them. Pfeiffer is wonderfully cruel, angry and controlling in her role and deserved more time if anything.
Aronofsky, as writer and director, has certainly poured a huge amount of effort into this seemingly inspired by psychological horrors of the past, whilst dealing a sprinkling of humour over the whole affair. Ordinary sounds are amplified, images allude as much as inform and the final third moves at such speed it is hard to get your head around the various allusions its appearing to make. Possibly that is the films greatest strength as much as it may be a weakness in getting ordinary movie going public to watch. It is so easy to interpret the last act as so many things depending on the audiences own prejudices that many people will simply be confused by it. Personally I can’t wait to watch again and see if I take something different the second time around.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Spencer-Skeen – Follow me on Twitter