When a new film by Darren Aronofsky comes out some people hold their breath with excitement and others groan in despair. Whether you love or loath his films, Mr Aronofsky certainly knows how to get a reaction out of people, and with mother! (It’s not a typo, the small “m” is intrinsic to the story as is the exclamation mark!) he has managed to take that skill and concentrate it into something unique. Some of you will love mother! with every fibre of your being, some of you will see it as a complete waste of time. I can honestly say that I understand both sides of the argument, but I can’t tell you which side you’ll come down on. I can only encourage you to go and see it for yourself and make up your own mind.
The basic set up for the story is that Jennifer Lawrence is a young wife to Javier Bardem and they live in perfect harmony in a house that she is doing up whilst he tries to get past his writer’s block. One day there is a knock at the door and Ed Harris’ character arrives and the harmony of the house starts to change into something much less perfect and far more unpleasant and intense. I can’t really explain more because it would ruin the film, but suffice to say that the intensity continues to ratchet up throughout the film to truly horrific levels.
Much of the credit for this goes to Aronofsky’s intimate camera work that really makes you feel as though you are part of the story. Johan Johannsson’s soundscape is also a major player, underlining emotional beats and screams in equal measure, whilst not being a traditional score. Javier Bardem is an absolutely terrifying delight to watch, but at the centre of this maelstrom is Jennifer Lawrence’s amazing performance. To say that she carries the movie is both unfair on everyone else, as they are, to a person, on top form, as well as being completely true. She inhabits this movie in a way that makes me wonder how much of herself she left on the set when the cameras stopped rolling. I really can’t imagine anyone getting between her and another Oscar at this point.
Before I get to my rating it is worth saying that mother! is a film that has many, many layers to it. Some are obvious and some more occult, but they are ready for you to uncover like a treasure horde if you are willing to put the effort in to see them. The main issue that I have with writing about this film is that if I mention too much then I will likely give the whole game away and spoil the experience for you. Suffice to say that if you go into the cinema expecting to watch a film that demands you look beneath its surface you will be rewarded by it. If you can hang on, it’s a wild ride that will take you from whirling emotional crescendos of joy before crashing into hellscapes of horror and then back again. Try not to blink too much though! This film refuses to hold your hand and doesn’t give a damn if you get lost along the way!
So, which side of that fence do I sit on? Well, I’m one of the lovers of this movie, though I will admit that I wasn’t sure about that until the final credit had rolled, but that was because it took me that long to finish having my reaction to the story that had dragged me along with it. This film is about as close to a nightmare as I’ve ever come whilst still being entertained. I was left intrigued, stunned, traumatised, happy and melancholic all at the same time, which was honestly not something I was prepared for when I walked into the cinema! You owe it to yourself go and experience this film in the cinema. It may piss you off or it may just change your life.
Five Moon’s out of Five. A Masterpiece.
This review courtesy of Movies with Moon