Exceptional MOTHER! births life from death
FIRE. A massive fire. A woman poised at its center.
But first, rewind. Let us start at the beginning.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Mother. She wakes and searches for her husband, Him, played by Javier Bardem. He embraces her, and they talk about their affection for each other and how proud he is of her, mainly of restoring the house entirely on her own. The house has become her sanctuary and place of comfort and separation from the crazy world. One morning, there is a knock at the door. Man (Ed Harris) is at the door asking Him for assistance. Him invites Man in. Later, Man’s wife Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up. It is at this point that the couple begin to make themselves at home, becoming far too comfortable as house guests. As it does not seem to bother Man, this becomes a disruption and a growing discomfort for Mother. This is the ongoing pattern of the film: comfort and solace, then a slow buildup to disruption and chaos. As most of the camera shots are centered and often close-up on Mother, she becomes the focal point for sympathy. It is difficult, however, to understand why Him is not as supportive and understanding of Mothers concerns.
Stylistically, in Mother! (2017), director Darren Aronofsky was successful in mixing the darkened, unsettling, and uncertain feel from his Black Swan (2010) film, with the slow, and shockingly intense dramatic buildup of his Requiem for a Dream (2000)). The film flows like a roller coaster – each rising peak intensifying greater than the last, and each resolution becoming less and less comforting. The house, itself, becomes a character in the film – complete with heartbeats and vocal utterances. Many of the organic elements of the film feed into the ‘mother motif’, and most of these moments make more sense by the third act. It is plain to see possible stylistic influences from directors Cronenberg and Lynch, with film influences from Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Silent House (2011). By the end of the film, it will feel like you have just watched a moderately-budgeted Twilight Zone (1959-1964) episode.
Beware: Those who suffer from claustrophobia, or those who simply value their own personal space may find this film difficult to watch. Also, it may be advantageous to contemplate your value of human life before viewing this film, or you may become more of a victim than Mother.
Once you see this film, you may need another viewing or two do fully digest it all. Assuming, of course, that you can make it through the first viewing…which I highly recommend attempting.