Release: 22nd January 2017
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. From filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer in this riveting psychological thriller about love, devotion and sacrifice.
Whether it is a biblical musing, environmentalist parable, or twisted remake of Tom Hank’s The Money Pit, one thing is for sure; mother! is not a viewing experience easily forgotten.
According to writer / director Darren Aronofsky, the film was spawned from an angry weekend of fevered writing; a sentiment that is felt in full force for every raging moment of its two hour runtime. It is apposite then that mother! leans so heavily into its old testament narrative; as the God of Moses, Noah et al is often accused of being a vengeful one. If you don’t feel uncomfortable watching mother! then you are not paying attention. Jennifer Lawrence’s character is a tour de force of emotions in the extreme; she is a stomach ulcer waiting to happen, and as the film is wholly from her perspective, said ulcer is likely to become our own.
Aronofsky plays on the home invasion sub genre, as we gradually feel the escalating anxieties of unwanted guests; not just entering the home, but decimating it. We witness the ups and downs of loving someone larger than life, and the frustrations of inheriting that person’s interests, lifestyle and hangers on. The celebrity element is of course there to be seen, but it is cursory to the whole God / Mother Nature element. The main take away from mother! is its growing sense of dread and loss of control. From the minutia of a late night guest to the eventual and unspeakably grizzly third act, mother! has no let up, very little happiness and literally no sense of hope. Even the toilet, a common place of sanctuary in cinema, is bubbling over with blood spitting monstrosities.
The film’s central analogy is plain for all to see, and Aronofsky makes no bones about showing his intent. This is instead a study in tonal filmmaking; here is a film dripping with atmosphere. Aronofsky has always been a filmmaker partial to body horror, and he often uses this as a way to explore the human experience. Whether it is sexual awakening / mental health (Black Swan), failure and regret (The Wrestler), or youth and alienation (Requiem For a Dream), he often uses stark and visceral imagery to pontificate on the physicality of these themes. In the case of mother!, take your pick. Whatever your final thoughts, there is no doubt that as much as mother! is gruelling to watch, it must have been ten times more gruelling to make. So to that end, whatever polarised response the film generates, at the very least it deserves a heartfelt round of applause.
There are only two special features that accompany the film, a Special Effects bit looking at things such as that toilet scene (note; it looks like a bum hole). But the Making Of feature is rather immersive and informative. Although it does not answer many questions, it provides a nice look behind the curtain.
Special Features Grade: C+
Between The Fountain, Noah and now mother!, Darren Aronofsky has crafted a highly unconventional trilogy. Beware; you’ll see things you won’t forget in a hurry.