Friday, September 22, 2017

Mother! Review

'You give, and you give, and you give. It's just never enough.'

Together in a remote but spacious country home, a couple's peaceful, pastoral existence is rudely interrupted by unannounced strangers in Darren Aronofsky's newest mind-barrage of a feature. Jennifer Lawrence plays young lover to her older husband (Javier Bardem), embodying an air of innocence and utter helplessness akin to that of a leaf caught in a hurricane. Meanwhile, Bardem displays his capability to switch from loving patriarchal caregiver to deranged cult-leader in a matter of seconds. What a ride.

Mother! begins with an air of serenity that can only be compared to the calm before a storm. The vast spaciousness of the house. Its cool, soft lighting. The muted colours. There's something almost sacred about its undefiled purity. What churns the stomach is the unease that follows when things inevitably begin to go awry. It's difficult to talk about this film without feeling like you're going to do it an injustice. It manages to exist in a vague, surreal space that makes it difficult to define.

Mother! could loosely be described as a domestic thriller, which later culminates in an operatic cacophony of chaotic proportions. The audience is then left to soak in the utter vitriol and lawlessness of its enrapturing bravura. The onslaught of symbolic imagery hurled in the last quarter of this film feels like a test in perseverance and nerve. This is not a film that entertains, necessarily. It's uncomfortable. It's tense. At times, very disturbing. Though never is there a dull moment. Lawrence's performance exudes a wariness that we as an audience can share in, to a point. Soon though, the characterisation begins to feel like nothing more than savage puppetry, with Lawrence's character a pawn in the eventual hell-ride that ensues.

You'd be forgiven for not warming up to this film straight off the bat, or at all. It's not a film that's asking to be liked in the traditional sense. There's no positivity to be found here, more of a cautionary tale. A cinematic liberation for all of Aronofsky's frustrations, outrage, and fears. A cathartic release of sorts.

There's a wealth of allegorical significance here to be sure, with nods to environmental issues, biblical symbolism, relationships and the role of women, abusive relationships. Something for everyone? Perhaps, but the best thing about Mother! is that it's in no way cut and dry. So many different meanings and interpretations can be taken from this parable that it deserves repeat viewings. Aronofsky's high-octane come-back makes for a uniquely intense viewing experience akin to Requiem For A Dream. Is it pleasant? No. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely.