MOTHER! review by Ronnie Malik – Darren Aronofsky directs Jennifer Lawrence & Javier Bardem

MOTHER! review by Ronnie Malik – Darren Aronofsky directs Jennifer Lawrence & Javier Bardem

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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson

Rating: B-

Director Darren Aronofsky is famous for making foreboding films about characters driven mad by their obsessions. He gave us BLACK SWAN, a story about a dark and disturbed ballerina, and THE WRESTLER depicting an aging athlete on a downward spiral, and now Aronofsky is going to give us MOTHER! …a rather disturbing tale of life gone haywire for a married couple living a secluded life in the country.

The setup is rather simple. The two lead characters oddly known only as “Him” (Javier Bardem) and “Mother” (Jennifer Lawrence), are married and living a life of seclusion in a home located in the middle of nowhere. Bardem’s character is a brilliant writer who has tucked himself away from the public so that he can gain inspiration for his next great work. Lawrence portrays a young wife bent on creating the perfect home as she spends her days renovating the old house Mother and Him call home. The lady of the house goes about on a Martha Stewart mission to refurbish the country dwelling while her writer husband barricades himself in his study struggling to write his next masterpiece.

One evening a knock on the door finds a man (Ed Harris), who claims to be a surgeon, saying he thought he was entering a bed and breakfast and was only looking for a place to stay. Much to Mother’s surprise her husband invites the stranger to stay with them. Soon after that the stranger’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives and does not take too kindly to Mother. Together the couple staying with the homeowners manage to make things rather uncomfortable for Mother while her husband seems oblivious to the change in the atmosphere at home. Then mysteriously the house guests’ sons arrive and a family feud breaks out in the living room. Finally, after wreaking havoc, the unwelcome intruders are asked to leave. Mother breathes a sigh of relief that her life will now return to normal.

With life now calm and stable, the sweet polite wife finds out she is pregnant and news of a new baby coming into their lives spurs the author into writing one of his best books. One evening towards the end of Mother’s pregnancy, she is busy preparing a romantic dinner when much to her horror hordes of people starts arriving at her home. Her husband is thrilled because the unexpected company is all there to see him and he is reveling in the adoration and attention. Now things really spiral out of control. Cameras are everywhere, riots break out, explosions wreak the house, and Mother is desperate to save her unborn child from an insanity that she cannot control.

Jennifer Lawrence is hypnotic as the camera stays on her face for most of the film. Her wandering blue eyes and innocent face are perfect to display the confusion and horror of someone whose life is being violated by things she can’t understand. The actress brings us an amazing performance of a girl going insane by her surroundings. Javier Bardem, with his sly smile, is creepy as the man enjoying in his own narcissistic glory. His performance gives an extreme example of what it would be like to be married to an egocentric dominating maniac that only loves when he is sucking the life of out of someone. Screen legend Michelle Pfeiffer is brilliant as the icy intrusive house guest from hell. Her portrayal of a nosy, rude and judgmental woman overstepping boundaries effectively leaves an uneasy eerie feeling.

There are haunting visual and sound effects in the film to keep your eyes glued to the screen. A creaking old house that seems to have a life of its own, blood spilling down walls, dark mysterious corners, body parts showing up where least expected, and a ominous musical score just make up a few of the effects adding to the tone of the movie. Lawrence’s reaction to the mysterious things she is seeing add another gut wrenching punch to the sinister feel of the film.

MOTHER! is an unconventional horror movie filled with disturbing images creating the worst possible nightmare for a woman trying to answer the question “is this really happening to me?” Aronofsky and those involved with creating this production leave many unanswered questions that will have those watching pondering for explanations. For many it will be very difficult to make any sense out of this insanely dark film while others will delight in trying to figure out its message. Is this story a dream or is it a reality? There is no way to know.

Those looking for a conventional horror film with a beginning, middle, and end that provide for nicely tied up storyline may want to stay away from this latest creation by Aronofsky. This is a production that will not be enjoyed by many (definitely was not my cup of tea!), but for those who like to guess at what the filmmakers were trying to give us, this might be the perfect brain teaser to discuss after the film.

MOTHER opens September 15, 2017

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