REVIEW: ‘Mother’ Is One Of The Year’s Most Extreme Films, And For The Most Part It Works

Perennial cinematic risk taker Darren Aronofsky, who’s previously helmed films such as “Black Swan” and “Requiem for a Dream,” is at it again with this year’s “Mother!”

The movie opens rather mysteriously before introducing the audience to the two lead characters, named only Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) and Him (Javier Bardem). Their married life is a simple one, Him being a writer and poet who’s trying to find his next breakthrough while Mother works on restoring sections of the house they live in.

Tensions begin to rise as two guests show up on their home’s doorsteps, though, played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. That tension only continues to build as the situation at the house becomes more and more unsettling.

“Mother!” can be classified somewhat as a tale of two halves. The first plays out something like a mystery, with motives of many of the characters on display never truly known. The second half, meanwhile, is downright wild, as the situation revolving around the leads descends into chaos.

This review won’t go into spoilers, as this film deserves to be seen without much knowledge. However, it can be said that Aronofsky and company did tremendous work in throwing in twists and turns to keep an audience guessing as to what was going to happen next as well as continuously building the intensity.

Like his film “Black Swan,” “Mother!” is a picture that doesn’t really let up, so viewers are always on edge. This factor is enhanced to the 10th degree when the film gets into its second half and goes from thriller mystery to an absurd roller coaster ride of a movie.

Along with the genres on display, from thriller to horror, “Mother!” is also quite metaphorical in its approach. At some points this aspect is laid on a bit thick, yet for the most part it lets the film actually make a bit of sense, rather than have it just be a mishmash of crazy events. This is especially true for some of the disturbing, intense sequences that occur in the latter part of the film. It allows a viewer to have some context with what’s going on, rather than it just be unsettling for no reason.

As for the cast, it’s just as good as expected. In the top four leading performers, you have two Academy Award winners (Lawrence and Bardem) as well as two Golden Globe winners (Harris and Pfeiffer), and their expertise is well on display here.

Bardem, for example, walks a fine line through most of the movie, at some points appearing to be a completely devoted and loving husband while at others being a bit too trusting of outsiders and even distant. Lawrence, meanwhile, is solid as the lead character, having to sell nearly every single type of emotion throughout the flick.

As previously stated, some of the metaphorical aspects are a bit too much at times and the film’s ending wasn’t one of the best. Additionally, it should be noted that this isn’t a movie for everybody. Enjoyment really depends on your suspension of disbelief and how willing you are to dive into whatever artistic cinema has to offer.

At the end of the day, Aronofsky has made a film that’s technically well crafted, features some solid performances, leaves things open to interpretation for audiences and creates a feeling of unease and tension. It’s a bit messy here and there and it’s already proving to be a divisive film, but on my end, this is a good one. 4.1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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