mother! (2017)

by sfe medusa

(dir. Darren Aronofsky)

As I leave the Curzon Bloomsbury’s Renoir Cinema, my heart noticeably aches. I’m not sure whether this if because of raging guilt for climate change and the other assorted rapes on Mother Earth, or because of the visceral bass that had even the cinema screen shaking during Darren Aronofsky’s latest in his ‘girl-goes-crazy’ series.

OK, not necessarily an entirely accurate description of his work, but there are certainly moments where Jennifer Lawrence looks uncannily well-trained in “Natalie Portman losing control”. We also have the recurring themes of the tortured artist, the chaos that ensues when humans are devoted to creating, and innocent girl losing her cool when faced with overtly sexy minx. In mother!, however, these all feel much more religiously pronounced.

I think it’s been much maligned because the layers are so obvious, and that, in trying to take on so much, the film feels overstuffed and ludicrous.
But apart from a weird voyage through various historical moments that feels more like a bad ketamine trip than a poignant political message, I enjoyed the pounding audacity and the blatant metaphors of the film, baby carcass and all.

Also, we have Jennifer Lawrence balancing the cavorting wildness of the film with a controlled, spot-on performance. Her character, ‘Mother’, (during the film she and Javier Bardem – ‘Him’ – remain noticeably unnamed) appears naive and dedicated, pure of heart, selfless. Bardem plays the worst kind of egocentric: expectedly wrapped up in himself yet completely convinced that he, too, is caring and selfless.
The uncomfortable entrance of the unnerving characters played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer trigger everything that warrants an exclamation mark in the film’s title.

Aronofsky’s typical, surreal filmmaking works well in creating the palpable anxiety and nightmarish confusion that involves the unexplained intrusion of strangers. And more unexplained things, and intrusions, and strangers.

The house stands alone in the middle of nothing, as if suspended in space and time.
Oil; reflected in a mysterious golden drug Mother takes to calm her seismic nerves and in its destructive, fiery role.

Her roars, her quakes, her violence is a relief: it’s welcomed.

Ambitious work from Aronofksy, not to be sniffed at.