MOTHER!

PrintE-mail Written by Hayden Mears

It's difficult to see Darren Aronofsky's mother! as anything other than incendiary filmmaking. The film is Biblical in both concept and content, which has already alienated some and divided most. His previous effort, Noah, had a similar, if less polarising, effect. Historically, Aronofsky's work has tended toward the twisted, and mother! continues this trend. This isn't a happy film. Nor is it a hopeful one. Despite his brilliance, the director wants a level of commitment from each of his viewers that just isn't possible given the material and the approach. Still, it's an evocative film that challenges viewers to sit through their own darkest impulses and reflect. It's also masturbatory in every sense, but were you expecting anything less from a pretentious showboat like Aronofsky?

mother! pulls captivating performances out of Jennifer Lawrence (mother) and Javier Bardem (Him), both of whom give their all. The two share a chemistry we didn't expect, giving the film's final moments more heart and more heft than they would have deserved otherwise. Ed Harris (basically Adam) and Michelle Pfeiffer (essentially Eve) also turn in magnetic performances, especially because neither of them is likable. Making us empathise with humanity would be counterproductive for Aronofsky, so he holds that empathy at an arm's length narratively and emotionally.

However, don't confuse Aronofsky's cynicism with meanness. The guy has a heart, and it's made evident in Lawrence's character, mother. Granted, several scenes challenge this statement, often conveying humanity's hate through extreme cruelty and a level of indulgence of which only Aronofsky is capable. However, the film uses its own excess to both undermine and underline its ultimate point: humanity runs full-tilt toward the apocalypse, rarely heeding Mother Earth's warnings. Aronofsky's use of excess to depict the dangers of excess works because it indicates a self-awareness, which ends up undercutting its message. Honestly, that's brilliant.

The director's ambivalence toward the necessity of his film becomes increasingly apparent as tensions congeal and become a shapeless mass of palpable discomfort. He definitely wanted to make the film, but he also despised the need for such a statement. His obvious aversion to and admittance of the apocalypse make the film unexpectedly well-rounded, making it thoughtful, disheartened, pointed, and passive-aggressive all at once.

mother! isn't the Aronofsky masterpiece viewers were hoping for, and it's not the disaster it could have been either. Regardless of your feelings toward the film, one thing remains clear: It has people talking, and that's exactly what Aronofsky wanted.

MOTHER! / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DARREN ARONOFSKY / STARRING: JENNIFER LAWRENCE, JAVIER BARDEM, ED HARRIS, MICHELLE PFEIFFER, BRIAN GLEESON, DOMHNALL GLEESON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Expected Rating: 5 out of 10
Actual Rating:  


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