2017. Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
By Brian Wallinger
Art house film director Darren Aronofsky has always been; for lack of a better description, a peculiar, yet strangely attractive artist of his time, receiving both critical acclaim and immense ridicule for his engaging and often misunderstood creations.
His new release mother!, is a film that is without a doubt one of his most crucial and uncompromising efforts, that has also his most ambitious and undeniably truthful feature films, regardless of how "disturbing" it may be. It is a film not meant for everyone, given its polarizing feedback. Some are calling it a "disturbing allegorical narrative", while others are accusing it of being "pretentious" and labeling it a "mockumentary of biblical passages". I, however, am on the defensive. If there's anything that a film like this loves, it's controversy and if there's anything more film buffs love even more than controversy, it's to talk about it. Personally, i think the film is great, and very important given the time and current state of our society.
In reviewing the film, I found that one can not simply verify the solidarity of its composition based on a handful of variables and visual angles. This is a movie that is so engaging and forthright that to completely understand it beyond than a surface level requires multiple viewings. Aronofsky has created a film so personal and dear to him that it captures perfectly the harsh and cruel realization of our society; everything from corrupted politics to the insanity of endlessly pursuing perfection. These truths create a domestic prison that continue the illusion while we fruitlessly labor to make everything work. Sometimes Mother Nature is against us and only through the salvation of a spiritual awakening are we ever free, even if it at times feels like a nightmare. Reality is a repetition of trauma and adversity, and mother! symbolizes the trouble with letting go. Life, and freedom are an unknown element, synthesized by Aronofsky's gender gap relationship at the center.
The story is about a couple, the woman being played with a heavy hand and precise, delicate vulnerability by Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence, who in my opinion has made her best film in the past four years. Lawrence playing a strong willed, however soft spoken women alongside her successful husband played with style and ease by Oscar winner Javier Bardem, in a restrained and hauntingly convincing role as a struggling writer. They form a very complex and engaging duo with a unique chemistry that carries the light of the film with Aronofsky's direction all the way through. Lawrence and Bardem live quietly among themselves in a remote location surrounded by trees and fields of grass in the childhood home of Bardem's character that was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt. One afternoon a stranger, played by the Ed Harris, and eventually his wife, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, for reasons unknown find there way into the couple's lives and it is during their time in the house where the plot descends into the depths of a cultivating darkness that is remarkably captured by cinematographer Matthew Libatique.
mother! is a film that leads to a conclusion so ludicrous and morbid it's hard to imagine even conceiving it. This is one that will be talked about in years to come. Some minor flaws I found were in the first act, it feels very long and drawn out with some shots feeling repetitive along with certain pieces of dialogue. The Editing of the film also has it's highs and lows, with Andrew Weisblum at the helm of piecing this vastly structured film together. Despite these minor flaws, the overwhelming impact of the film is never diminished.
The film isn't quite as frightening as it lets on. The horrors are more psychological and metaphorical. The true fright comes from within its cold truths about the abuse of women all the way to the top of corrupt politics. Playing it off as a modern day revision of the bible in a very radicalized engaging sense mother! is a film that most definitely is a take it or leave it exercise, but to leave it would be a mistake. While it isn't ahead or behind the times, it is the perfect parallel, and that's what makes it so effective and unforgettable.