Saturday, October 6, 2018

MOTHER! (2017) movie review

mother! (2017) d. Darren Aronofsky (USA) (122 min.)

Rich with allegory, imagery, and dream logic, Aronofsky’s wildly expressionistic exploration of relationships, boundaries, and grief falls into the same category as his previous efforts Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and Black Swan in terms of not explicitly being yet generating more tension and disturbing imagery than most “legit” horror films.

Javier Bardem plays a frustrated poet living in a secluded mansion, Jennifer Lawrence his attentive and supportive bride, focused on rehabbing and restoring their living space (his childhood home). One night, they are visited one night by a stranger (Ed Harris) claiming to be a professor at the local college, mistakenly informed that their abode is a B&B. Bardem invites him to stay the night (without asking his wife’s opinion), setting into motion a series of increasingly discomforting events and visitations that will ultimately challenge Lawrence’s foundational beliefs about herself, her marriage, and her sanity.

To say more about the plot would be a disservice to first-time viewers; suffice to say that those looking for easy answers and linear storytelling will likely be frustrated. I can understand some viewers being put off by the heavy-handed symbolism (religious and otherwise) and graphic visuals, but for me, it’s a masterpiece of catharsis and empathy – on numerous occasions I found myself saying, “Yes, that is exactly what (X) feels like,” despite the onscreen scenario not echoing my literal experience. The cast, which also includes Michelle Pfeiffer (as you’ve never seen her before) and Stephen McHattie, is phenomenal, providing a devastating emotional core for Aronofsky’s experiment in “pure cinema.”

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