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mother! – Early Review

mother! review

Premiering at the Venice Film Festival, and to London’s press yesterday, is J-Law’s most controversial film to date, centered around demonic powers and writer’s block.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson
Director: Darren Aronofsky

A loving wife (Lawrence) lives with her older husband (Bardem) in his isolated house. She’s restoring it after it was gutted in a fire at the end of his last relationship, whilst he suffers from complete artistic paralysis. An intrusive superfan (Harris) appears at the front door, later his partner (Pfieffer) and their two children (Domhnall Gleeson and real-life bro Brian), all of whom are warmly invited stay by the husband, much to the wife’s dismay. More uninvited guests appear, each ruder than the last, and as her potential pregnancy keeps being mentioned she wonders what is really going on…

This is the latest work from writer-director Darren Aronofsky, of Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream and Noah. The first two acts are narratively straightforward, making for a suspenseful and excellently acted mystery (Lawrence, Bardem, Harris and Pfeiffer are one hell of a quartet). The intense third act takes a big step into the extreme with moments designed to shock and narrative vagueness / symbolism that will frustrate general audiences but provoke much discussion amongst cinefiles.

Many a film essay will be written on the meaning of it all, but at its core this is Rosemary’s Baby-inspired and since 48-year-old Aranofsky is dating 26-year-old Lawrence in real life, and has cast Bardem with the same 22 year age gap, there’s surely some parallel – Bardem’s character struggles for creative inspiration while overlooking his partner’s needs, finally creates, is swamped with adoring fans, and then that thing they both put their energy into, when it gets into the hands of the public…[spoiler]. But while I read mother! as Aronofsky’s take on how an artist can feed selfishly off a muse, there will be other interpretations.

Go and see it if you fancy being challenged by the year’s most artistic and controversial horror-thriller. Or if you love hearing Jennifer Lawrence say “excuse me” to rude people.

Grade: B+

mother! is released in the UK and US on September 15th.

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  • gd smith said

    I dunno. I didn’t like this. At its core it seemed to be based on one of those “art” is destructive, men create art because they can’t carry babies or something or other conversion beloved of bad artists especially when they are trying to dominate or impress younger women. I suppose this could actually be the point and certainly makes the humour funnier. There are nods to Rosemary’s Baby, but that film had a very tight structure courtesy of Ira Levin’s novel (actually so tight, it’s almost like an exact shooting script) and was far more elegant. This thing goes all over the place, never lets the camera settle on anything and has too many close-ups for my taste. Having said that, it might jut be me. I liked Curse of the Wereswan, thought the Fountain was poor and could never take Requiem for Reefer Madness seriously. I will admit I love the bonkers Noah

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      Those are some interesting takes on it. Sure, I didn’t walk out fully satisfied, there was an offish pretension about the final act, but I enjoyed it as a cinematic journey and was gripped for most (was a bit repetitive at times). The actors are world class, and it’s bursting with literate ideas and subtext. It reminded me a lot of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ which was another “thriller-as-vehicle-for-comment on how artistic pursuit impacts on a partner”.

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