NOT ARONOFSKY’S BEST WORK BUT IT’S A SICK, TWISTED EXPERIENCE THAT KEEPS YOU GUESSING!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!
After a decently reviewed yet awkward film adaptation of Noah’s Ark, director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, Noah) returns to his roots with the psychological horror film, Mother! Going into this movie I didn’t really have any expectations nor did I know much about the movie though I was intrigued by its trailers and marketing.
So, I gave it a watch and…wow, where do I even start with this one? I wouldn’t say this film stands as tall as some of his other films but nevertheless it was creepy, weird, had a great sense of atmosphere and mystery, well-acted, and it kept me guessing.
The film follows a married couple (Jennifer Lawrence-X-Men franchise, The Hunger Games franchise, Silver Linings Playbook and Javier Bardem-Before Night Falls, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall) living alone together and peacefully in an old house that they are spiffing up in hopes of creating a paradise. But when uninvited guests (Ed Harris-The Truman Show, A Beautiful Mind, A History of Violence and Michelle Pfeiffer-The Witches of Eastwick, Batman Returns, Stardust) arrive at their home their relationship is tested as the strangers disrupt their tranquil existence.
The film also stars Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 and 2, Ex-Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Brian Gleeson (Love/Hate, Snow White & the Huntsman, Logan Lucky), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters (2016), Sausage Party), Jovan Adepo (The Leftovers, NCIS: Los Angeles, Fences), and Stephen McHattie (Seinfeld, A History of Violence, Watchmen).
Overall, Mother! Is another satisfying yet disturbing addition to Darren Aronofsky’s filmography however your enjoyment of this movie all depends on what kind of person you are and/or your taste in movies. It starts off suspenseful and atmospheric but then it goes into sick, disturbing territory which almost felt like an artistic Saw in fact I’m surprised there wasn’t a trailer for Jigsaw shown prior to this film, but I digress.
It goes for a more artistic vision rather than a straight up scary flick which may turn some viewers off which is perfectly understandable. This is not a movie for everyone, it does take its time and slightly passes the 2-hour mark and a lot of scenes, plot elements, and themes can come off as unsettling and confusing.
Despite the movie feeling like a mixed bag in terms of appeal the stuff that’s good in this film is phenomenal. The production design and cinematography are very bleak and are almost reminiscent of those haunted house movies from like the 70s or 80s, the plot is very complex and is worthy of multiple viewings to understand its message, and of course the performances of Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem; specifically, Lawrence’s because she has most of the screen-time in this film.
I’m convinced Jennifer Lawrence can be put in a terrible movie (*ahem* Passengers) and still give it her all and make an impression. This isn’t Mystique or Katniss Everdeen Jennifer Lawrence, no, this is possible Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence I mean it she’s amazing in this movie, she’s not this tough badass character but your average woman taking care of her house and husband who is frightened (and possibly going insane) by these unwanted guests invading her home.
Javier Bardem also delivers a solid performance here as Lawrence’s husband but not quite as amazing as Anton from No Country for Old Men. He looks creepy and threatening but they don’t immediately make him out as the bad guy despite him being so calm about these visitors and unlike Anton he comes off as more mysterious than legitimately terrifying.
I don’t think this movie would go down with Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, or Black Swan as a Darren Aronofsky classic but if you’re interested in seeing this movie at all and you have some idea of what you’re getting into then Mother! Would definitely be worth a watch. It’s well-executed, scary, and throws so many unexpected twists and turns that will make you say “What?”.