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1/11/18

MOTHER! - REVIEW


Directed by Darren Aronofsky, mother! is a psychological thriller from 2017 about a couple living in the countryside who get a strange visit from another couple before things get truly out of hand, to say the least.

Jennifer Lawrence is the titular mother who lives in an unfinished house with her rather intense husband, a writer (played by the ever-intimidating Javier Bardem) suffering from writer's block until he is visited by a fan and his wife. The latter couple, played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, show up randomly one day as Lawrence's character becomes increasingly suspicious of their bizarre behaviour and nervous about their influence on her husband. "mother" isn't all that normal herself as she appears to be obsessed with fixing her house and spends pretty much all her time walking around looking confused by everything. You're never quite sure what this awkward dynamic between her and her much older husband is all about since they're rarely together and you see everything through the wife's eyes. Mother! has been described as a horror film but this might give you the wrong idea about what to expect: while there are some disturbing scenes throughout and the whole thing is shot like a horror film, it's not your typical jump-scare-fest and it's never actually scary.

In the same vein as some of Lars Von Trier's output (see Antichrist), mother! is a memorably, sometimes amusingly strange film with some shocking surreal moments. What starts off as just an exploration of jealousy, fandom and paranoia soon evolves (or devolves) into familiar yet surprising territory as elements from the Bible start to surface and you start to see the main characters are more than just some weird couple that random stuff keeps happening to. This turns out to be one big allegory touching on various aspects of religion and mythology while also presenting a grim satire of celebrity, life and death. There's a lot to decipher here and, in fact, this is the best aspect of this movie: long after the credits roll, you'll be thinking about everything you just saw and you'll start to unpack its madness bit by bit. Aronofsky has been criticised for mixing perhaps too many ingredients in this movie and including one particularly violent and unpleasant scene. Having the film get to the point a bit quicker, admittedly, might have improved it a bit and the aforementioned graphic scene could have easily been toned down but mother! remains an effective piece of cinema.

While some will undoubtedly be put off by its edgier and crazier ideas, it's hard to deny that this movie is an unforgettable experience that's well worth putting yourself through. It's a cinematic experiment that's shaky, over-the-top and silly at times but always fascinating and, overall, it's a unique oddity you'll probably hate and love all at the same time.

Not for everyone.

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