Film Review: ‘mother!’ is Darren Aronofsky’s Relentless and Explicit Take on All of Us

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One of the most disturbing, and mind shattering experiences in years, Darren Aronofsky‘s newest psychological thriller “mother!” is a merciless and chilling device.  Aronofsky contributes his wit, fiercely blended with his twisted mind where our deepest nightmares about humanity become a reality.  It’s hard to recall a director who is so transfixed on the human condition and pairs it with such a galvanizing meditation on violence and our place on earth.

Often feeling overused as a talking point, critics tend to say “it’s better you don’t know what it’s about.”  In this case, it’s absolutely true.  In the most basic sense, “mother!” tells the story of a couple’s relationship that is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home.

Let’s preface this with saying Aronofsky demands so much of his audience.  The movie will demand your patience and your abilities to withstand the most gruesome parts of one’s self.  Unsettling yet perfectly stylized, Aronofsky takes a prophetic look at crime and punishment, littered with pessimism, paranoia, and hostility.  He waves through the story, with relentless strength, leaning towards a theme that focuses on the impossibility of redemption in the absence of free will.  Very dark in its messaging, at times, even a bit heavy handed, but nonetheless, a thought-provoking piece masquerading as a neo-horror film.

Its cast is jarring yet surprisingly moving, and then totally and unforgettably sensational.  Jennifer Lawrence headlines in one of her most demanding and extraordinary turns yet.  In what may be one of her most eerie and terrifyingly pertinent portrayals of her career, her chilling and brilliant work is enraptured and doesn’t allow you to catch your breath.

Javier Bardem hasn’t been this fluid and cerebral since “Biutiful” and surely not as sublime.  Grim in his execution, the pain and evoked feelings are felt every step of the way.

In likely her best role in over a decade, Michelle Pfeiffer‘s sinister and boldly crafted work is a joy to behold while Ed Harris‘ abstract and oddly underplayed turn is something to dissect separately.

If there’s a significant hero from the film’s technical team, it’s surely cinematographer Matthew Libatique who places us firmly on the shoulder of our main character and allows us to travel through its grisly tale.  In his finest work yet, he achieves greatness not yet seen from any other DP in 2017.  Just a masterful work of the lens.

mother!” is not for the faint of heart.  It’s an experience that cannot be embraced by all, and that likely will be hated by many, especially the general and casual movie-goer.  It wildly weavers through the world all too familiar yet completely unknown.  Visceral as it reproduces fear and depression as easy as the wind blows and then repulsive and shocking as it hemorrhages images and panic attacks that will live with you for days.

Aronofsky, who isn’t clearly an optimist, actually leads us into a journey that he admitted was difficult but as harrowing as his bold visions of our lives take front and center.  This is not, I repeat, not for your “mother.”

“mother!” is distributed by Paramount Pictures and opens in theaters on Sept. 15.

GRADE: (★½)

Check out the newest Oscar Predictions and see where “MOTHER!” ranks!

CLICK THE CATEGORY TO SEE THE OSCAR PREDICTIONS:

MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |

  • Greg

    Do you think Lawrence have a chance for another Academy Award nomination?

    • I’m leaning towards she’ll be in contention, and possibly pop up places but ultimately not be an Oscar nominee. Movie is going to be far too divisive.

  • Joey Magidson

    It’s brilliant lunacy. Can’t stop thinking about it.

  • Tee

    I’m so excited for this, because my favorite movies are the ones that Challenge viewers and are willing to be abrasive- Silence, Miss Sloane, and Jackie all recent examples of that vein I love.

  • Nathan Kovar

    Do you think Libatique is mother!’s strongest chance at a nomination?