Captivating. Artistic. Thought-provoking. Original. Strange.
These are just a few of the words that I feel I have not used nearly enough this year. And, somehow, these are also just a few of the words I would use to describe Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Mother!
Aronofsky has proven himself to be a versatile, exciting, and passionate director. But his forte has always seemed to lie in the psychological thriller genre. He dazzled us in 2010 with Black Swan (his only best picture nod) and really garnered a reputation with 2000’s cult Requiem for a Dream. Mother! has its roots in these works, but is not the work you would expect from him at all.
Mother! must have been a tough movie to market. I’m smiling thinking about the suits at Paramount trying to figure out who to and how to market this thing. Film nerds would be too niche of a demo, and the other remaining appeal would just be sold to fans of Aronosfky. This is a movie made for those willing to discover it.
It is Aronofksy’s Ingmar Bergman Persona colored with a Rainer Werner Fassbinder palette that was spat upon by The Evil Dead and stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in this film as a couple who own a house. Bardem is a writer whose words speak volumes, even though they are rather sparse. Lawrence takes pride in his house, remodeling and building every aspect of it, which Bardem claims was lost in a fire.
One day, Ed Harris shows up as an orthopedic surgeon needing a place to rest. Then his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up. But things don’t get weird until their kids (played by actor brothers Domnhall and Brian Gleeson) show up at the house, arguing over a will that Harris had written.
Just a side not before I continue, I sometimes do skimp on character’s names. However, the names of the characters in the movie range from Mother to Him to Younger Brother. If the writer-director skimped on names, I can do so here as well.
What we soon learn about the volumes that Bardem’s writing speak is what leads to Lawrence’s ultimate demise. He soon starts having people show up to his and Lawrence’s house uninvited only under the pretense that they show him much admiration.
Besides this basic plot outline, there really is nothing to say what this movie is about. Is it a comment on religion? Family? The nature of celebrity? Time? A critique of material possessions?
All of these questions are those asked by the lame film critic who believes it is their job to search for subtext in the film, rather than just either letting the film be what it is or easily finding subtext in the film. Any good movie won’t bury its meaning.
This is the type of film that makes you forget everything that goes into a good film. You are not paying attention to the writing, acting, cinematography. Instead, each moment keeps you wondering what one moment will be like and what will differ in the next. Throughout Mother!, you are constantly thinking forward as to how this plot can possibly be resolved.
Once it is, you won’t leave the theater satisfied.
That is not to comment on a lackluster ending, but don’t plan sleeping without this movie on your mind tonight.
I left Mother! feeling glad. This type of film has not been made in a very long time. It would have fit nicely in arthouse cinemas in the late 60s or 70s. Its heart is really in Europe.
I’m glad Lawrence and Bardem got to star in this movie. Even though I kept seeing them on screen as the actors who portray them, I couldn’t help but think about how audacious Jennifer Lawrence is, continually challenging and pushing herself to achieve new levels in her line of work. This is something Javier Bardem has done time-and-time again. I’m glad he brought her along for the ride.
I’m glad Darren Aornofsky had the audacity to make this film. It is only his second since Black Swan and his last film Noah, was not anything like this.
As it is, I’m glad this movie exists.
Tags: 2017 movie releases, 2017 movie review, art house, best picture, black swan, cult classic, darren aronofsky, ed harris, ingmar bergman, javier bardem, Jennifer lawrence, Michelle pfeiffer, mother!, movie review, newest releases, psychological, Rainer werner fassbinder, requiem for a dream, thriller, weird, weird movie