Darren Aronofsky returns to form with his latest darkly cerebral mother! The film pulls a bit of a bait and switch, leading the viewer to believe from the trailers that this is a reinterpretation of Roman Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY. It’s not. Those who have followed Aronofsky’s career will somewhat know what to expect from this picture, but those going in blind expecting to see the new Jennifer Lawrence horror film will not be prepared for what unfolds on the screen.
With this film, Lawrence switched gears a bit in her career, taking her movie star cache and star power and channelling it into a small and intimate feature that would not have been released on such a large scale had she not starred in this film. Lawrence delivers the finest performance in her career; channelling an array of emotions and internal struggles all with her physicality.
Javier Bardem gives a wonderful performance as her poet husband suffering from writer’s block, whilst she restores their home that had previously burnt down leaving Bardem with nothing but a beautiful and alluring crystal that was left from the rubble. Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, and Kristen Wiig show up briefly to help guide and covet the disturbing and visceral narrative to it’s finish.
To say the least, the film is incredibly challenging and deals with an array of themes that form together to make a taut and psychologically pounding narrative. It deals with the cult of personality and how it turns people (in this case artists) into a demigod; and how the cult can turn the tide against the demigod that inspired them so. It’s a thick narrative, potent with the transgressive nature of people, how they turn on one another; sacrifice one another. Even the ones they love.
Aronofsky shows us that with great sacrifice, great pain, and even greater heartbreak comes life-changing works of art. From an acute angle, the overall story is about the poet and his muse, and the ramifications that are accrued to the muse while the poet takes from her and takes from her to make a great work. Some works of art are born from reducing one’s self to ashes, and that can certainly be said about this film.
Aronofsky assembles a remarkable film, perhaps even his best film, and he does it by building a singular setting and keeping the camera’s point of view from Lawrence’s perspective. We see what she sees, and we experience what she experiences. It’s a brutal and graphic ride that pushes the boundaries of cinema as well as testing Lawrence’s box office star power. This isn’t a film that was made for the masses, it was made for Aronofsky by Aronofsky. While most won’t like, and may even walk out of mother!, they won’t see anything quite like this. mother! stands tall, and is one of the best films of the year.
Mother! is to be released on January 8, 2018 (Digital Download) and January 22, 2018 (4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD)
Review by Frank Mengarelli