Review of mother! (2017) by Jonathan Berk
I was predominately unfamiliar with Darren Aronofsky’s work prior to this month. In preparation for the release of Mother!, I went through his entire catalog other than Pi, which I watched last year. He is an auteur without question and his newest film only cements that he makes what he wants. Mother! will not be liked everyone, but it’s a thought provoking movie with some stellar performances.
Mother! is a crazy film with lots of great performances
A woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her husband (Javier Bardem) welcome an uninvited stranger (Ed Harris) and his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) into their home. They live a predominantly isolated life and the unexpected guests threaten to destroy their peaceful existence.
Lawrence has been hit or miss and I’ve often argued that she is a bit overrated. However, her performance in Mother! proves she can be quite exquisite when given the right material and direction. The film focuses on her, often depicting her in close-up, and she brings everything necessary to make the character work. She earns our empathy and at points in the film you feel her anxiety, fear, and every desire. It is definitely a memorable performance in a crazy film.
Bardem continues to impress with every role he is given. While he isn’t as prominent as I had hoped, he is powerful in every frame. He owns the scene and can make you terrified or overjoyed at a moment’s notice. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfieffer give great performances as well, but Pfieffer’s character is a bit hard to take. Actually, there are a lot of elements in the movie that are hard to deal with watching.
Aronofsky really explores some deep concepts in his films. Often they are not one you’ll fully comprehend with the first viewing. Much of what he examines in his art deals with life, death, and the idea of addiction. Yet, he finds interesting ways to explore these themes in each film. His style is very cinematic and he does like centering the main character in the frame when they move. Though, in Mother! the character is often facing it instead of the camera tracking the character. It’s one of his patterns that I’ve picked up on in his films and a signature of his technical style.
If you’re a fan of his other work you’ll likely love Mother! It’s a film that gets pretty crazy in the third act and there are some images that will never be erased from my brain. The film is going to likely leave you asking a lot of questions and pondering what the meaning of some things are. Mother! earns the Must See rating.