A mild-mannered Jennifer Lawrence is working away on a house restoration project in a vast and creaky abode that she inhabits with Javier Bardem – an intense, acclaimed writer who is suffering from writer’s block and actively searching for inspiration. This inspiration arrives when unnerving and uninvited guests Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer show up at their door. (All characters are unnamed in mother!).
We soon discover the differences in outlook between Lawrence and Bardem – a woman who’s a perfectionist seeking domestic bliss and man who’s obsessive in his quest for creative writing.
Seems pretty straight-forward so far, right? Think again. mother! steadily heads into a nightmarish and claustrophobic attack on the senses that will leave you gasping for air. It will leave you spellbound and dumbstruck.
As the film progresses the simple story lines becomes multi-faceted. Much akin to Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Lawrence is the central figure here. As things begin to untangle and tear around her, the audience is on the rollercoster with her every step of the way. We experience hallucinations as she can feel the beat of the house and human organs in the toilet, the alienation and isolation of feeling like the only sane person and her desperation to be loved by Bardem. Oh, and that’s just to start.
Director Darren Aronofsky has emphatically brought the shock value back to cinema – think of those scenes from Requiem for a Dream – and you’ll be hard pressed to experience the tempo of mother! from any other release of 2017. By the end of it, you’ll be shaken, jilted and smashed to a pulp.
There will no doubt be links to some Freudian elements with billowing sub-plots once inspected further – upon first viewing there are things that won’t make sense, but it’s incredibly tough to deconstruct the entire meaning and capacity of the film so suddenly after seeing it. Additionally, some surrealist moments in mother! do have comparisons to some of Lars von Trier’s work. To give a summary to the primary meaning of mother! would also be a bit of a spoiler.
Lawrence is magnetic, Bardem is enigmatic, mother! is bonkers. A must-see.