Genre: Horror? Thiller? Relationship parable? Biblical allegory?
Running Time: 120 mins.
Premise: A couple known only as mother (Jennifer Lawrence) and Him (Javier Bardem) find their idyllic, isolated existence threatened by the arrival of strange houseguests.
Behind-the-Scenes: Writer-director Darren Aronofsky apparently wrote the script very quickly, in a matter of days. He and Lawrence are now dating. Paramount must have greenlit the movie (with a budget of $30M) without seeing the script, based on the surprising box office strength of Aronofsky’s last film, Noah, which made over $360M worldwide.
The Good: Aronofsky directs like a man possessed, trying to work out his inner demons about relationships and the casualties of an artists’s ego and obsessions. This is audacious, visionary filmmaking that cinephiles will likely savor while regular moviegoers will outright reject (the “F” Cinemascore is proof of that). Aronofsky commits 100% to his twisted vision, and has created a movie that is anything but predictable. He puts Lawrence through the ringer, and she delivers on everything asked of her. Half of the movie consists of close-up reaction shots of her face, and she’s consistently fascinating and emotionally complex. This is easily her best performance to date. Michelle Pfeiffer is also great in a pretty funny supporting role as one of the surprise houseguests. Excellent sound design and claustrophobic cinematography. Will provide plenty of material to discuss, analyze, and have explained to you when it’s over.
The Bad: Don’t look for a story because there isn’t one. mother! is all sound and fury and thematic concepts, constantly moving and distracting its audience. The lack of any plot structure grows wearisome after a while, and the movie is so damn pessimistic and hateful towards humanity. It’s a tough sit.
Should You See It?: Ha! Who knows. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone, but I really dug it. Will depend entirely on the viewer and how adventurous they feel. This is polarizing stuff. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Star Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Noah, The Fountain
Worse Than: Black Swan, The Wrestler
* * *
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