mother! is the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, whose previous work includes the Oscar winning Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. It stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple whose home is described as “paradise”. Lawrence plays the role of the dutiful young bride eager to please her significantly older husband and spends her days renovating their house, while Bardem’s character looks for inspiration for his next piece of poetry. The film opens with a foreboding tone that fails to be dispelled, particularly when their apparent idyllic lifestyle is interrupted by some unwanted visitors.
Michelle Pfeiffer makes a welcome return to the screen in her role as the wife of the first visitor, played by Ed Harris. Pfeiffer appears to be having a career renaissance this year with a part in the adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express still ahead in a few months time. In mother!, she plays her character with menacing relish, particularly when she quizzes her hosts on their family plans. When the sons of the invading couple arrive, events take a sinister twist and all is not what it seems…
To say any more about the plot of the film would be a disservice to the unassuming viewer, as the less known about mother! the better. The revelations that unfold during the course of the movie are what makes the film so compelling and divisive. With Lawrence herself describing the film as a “love/hate” type of movie, it’s not difficult to understand what she means after viewing the film. Despite the premise of the movie appearing to be a psychological thriller or horror, the final act takes an unexpected turn before a truly shocking climax that will render many viewers speechless.
The subtext in the film may be lost on some viewers, yet is a clever Biblical allegory that will be analysed for many years to come. Aronofsky delivers a visually stunning piece of cinema that serves as a metaphor for events that shape our world today and poses many questions about society and humanity. His bold vision will have many viewers questioning everything that they have just watched, yet for others the pieces all fall into place during the final reel. The director provides hints and clues throughout the film, with its subtle layers gradually being revealed through the eyes of Lawrence’s character. As the story is portrayed from Lawrence’s perspective, the viewer is often given the sense of the possibility of an unreliable narrator. It is only by paying close attention and observing every detail that the viewer will be able to unlock the true mystery within the movie. Every line is delivered with meaning, which is only fully realised upon watching the complete film. The significance of each nuance demands repeated viewings of this film for further study.
In a time of reboots, sequels and series, it is refreshing to see such a unique piece of cinema. mother! is not be a film that everyone will enjoy, yet will make for so many topical discussions and debates for the unforeseeable future. Aronofsky succeeds in creating a story that makes the viewer think and consider their own actions, demonstrating the immense power of cinema.
Have you seen mother!? Did you love it or hate it? I’d love to discuss the film further, so please do get in touch!