mother! (2017)

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Darren Aronofsky directs Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem and Michelle Pfeiffer in this psychological nightmare about a young wife whose home is invaded by her writer husband’s fan base.

I’m an idiot at times. I sat down and watched mother! at face value. I enjoyed it and then didn’t enjoy it and then thought “OiOi, here we go again” and then thought “OK…wow… where are we going now?” until the end and then buttoned up my cardigan and thought I probably will never bother watching that again. If anything my overriding initial assessment was it had a disruptive sound mix. Javier Bardem pissing in another room was afforded the same amped up volume as an X-Wing zooming into shot in Star Wars. My wife took my hand and as we crossed the road from the cinema to my flat, she explained to me all the biblical parallels and how Javier Bardem represented God and Jennifer Lawrence represents Mother Earth. And I nodded and agreed that made a lot of sense. Then I read a cagey interview where Aronofsky took time to explicitly state that Natalie, my wife, was completely right. And then there were a load of opinion pieces and YouTube blogs about how mother! had flopped even though it stars the biggest movie star of our times, and it was pretentious and people don’t want to see downbeat, disturbing movies with explicit anti religion / pro green messages. And I thought…well we did follow Jennifer Lawrence around a lot and care for her and fear for her intensely for two hours. And unlike any other Hollywood film in years, I was genuinely unsettled by the places it went and the fact I didn’t have any handle onto where it was going. Like Dunkirk or Detroit, mother! was a completely immersive experience where tone and craft dominated over character and narrative. But unlike those two films I wouldn’t want to sit through it ever again. So more like Requiem for a Dream or The Fountain then. So how do I feel about mother!? I think Darren Aronofsky should stick to making movies in a defined genre with a strong simple narrative (like Black Swan, The Wrestler or Noah). I think Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent in a small role and wish she was used more still by better directors. I think most importantly you should go see it and see how you respond to it. You, like me, probably will find lots to hate… but it is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss out on… probably the closest thing to Russian war shocker Come And See or Pasolini’s Salo as a major movie star will ever be in. And Jennifer Lawrence is in every moment of mother! working her little socks off as we stalk and orbit and try to comfort her. Until she isn’t.

5

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