Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem & Ed Harris
Rating: 18 Duration: 121 minutes Release date: 22 January (UK)
It would take someone with the mind of Darren Aronofsky to create a film like mother! I truly am loathe to think of anyone else who would be able to form an idea for a film like this and then be brave enough to put it on the big screen. So ambitious, crucial and brave is mother! that it was never going to be an easy sell and it was always going to divide audiences. With themes as varied and ranging as the bible, the apocalypse, famine and torture to name but a few – mother! is that rare beast of a film that wears it all on its sleeve and leaves absolutely nothing behind, for better or worse.
With films like The Fountain, Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream, director Darren Aronofsky has forged a name for himself in modern Hollywood. Perhaps, his name means more to some than it does to others, but Aronofsky has always built films that fulfil his vision and have sparked deliciously varied reactions from the audience. His The Wrestler is arguably the only film that you could define as “normal”. mother! continues that trend of dividing people and you will perhaps already recognise the film for the controversy it garnered upon its release at the cinema. By anyone else’s standards then mother! would be a huge miss, a film likely to be ridiculed for years to come. But, in Aronofsky’s hands we have a film so wonderfully crafted and elegantly staged that it would be wrong to dismiss it wholly.
With Jennifer Lawrence in the leading role as a woman intent on rebuilding her partner’s home from the ground up, after an unseen – to us – fire, mother! has an angelic face for the audience to sympathise with. And sympathise we do. As Lawrence re-constructs the house, we see her neglected by Javier Bardem’s struggling poet – an older alpha male type who asserts his dominance over her in an almost passive aggressive style. mother! moves along at a keen pace, and as it does so we move around the house with only Lawrence’s character for company. As people begin to intrude upon their idyllic home, we feel as lost and confused as much as she does. When Ed Harris and, soon after, Michelle Pfeiffer show up at their door – mistaking their home for a B&B things begin to get really weird.
The intrusive nature of these guests brings an unforeseen element to the film. There are plenty of allegories that can be drawn from these events, but its the growing sense of tension and uncertainty that keeps the film rolling along. The sheer ill-manners of all those that step into this paradise and treat it as their own, with complete disregard for the feelings of the home owners lifts the film into horror territory as the consequences of the invaders actions spiral out of control. mother! is definitely not a film for everyone and it will test your limits on how far films should go. But make no mistake, this is brilliant cinema. An art-house film with a Hollywood budget and actors at the very top of their trade. You may not love it, but you will certainly remember it and mother! will leave an indelible mark in cinematic history.