Go see ‘mother!’: A movie masterpiece you can’t prepare for

Andy Moser

It’s 3 a.m. as I sit up in bed writing this review. It’s only been hours since I left the theater, and though it’s late and I have to be up at 7 tomorrow morning, the indescribable awe I experienced watching filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) latest movie refuses to allow me even the slightest wink of sleep.

mother! is truly something that cannot be forgotten once seen. It’s stunning, chaotic and perfectly unhinged.

In a secluded home amongst green fields and fresh air, a man (Javier Bardem) and a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) live peacefully in their own simple paradise. However, their relationship grows tense after a man (Ed Harris) randomly shows up at their door. Soon after, his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up as well, these two turn out to be some pretty hellish houseguests.

From there, we the audience begin a slow, enveloping descent into hysteria. The details of this journey are much better left concealed for fear of spoiling the rest of the plot, but the journey is assuredly unlike anything to hit the silver screen this year.

Careful thought has been put into what seems like every little detail the film has to offer. Everything is significant from the way the camera follows Lawrence around the house like a clingy child, to the rocky, uncertain interactions she has with the strangers who come into her home. And yes, relevance is also given to that tiny (but oh so powerful), alluring exclamation point at the end of the title. The screen has a graininess to it, foregoing the polished look of many feature films today.

You get lost in the film. It disturbs you. You’re transported to terrifying places you wouldn’t think could ever be real, yet they exist in everyday life in multiple ways. Aronofsky makes you question which characters you represent. He brilliantly visualizes a certain kind of internal struggle that ignites its way outward. He makes you question what it means to be somebody (or something) who faces brutal, unrelenting exploitation—somebody with unstoppable love and sacrifice in their heart. He asks you what kind of person is representative of what it takes to be a mother, and what being a mother fundamentally means. He poses these questions among a variety of others that are just waiting to be explored.

What happens over the course of the movie’s two-hour-long running time is soul stirring, and will likely prompt discussion long after the credits have rolled. A committed cast graces the audience with stellar performances across the board, especially Lawrence, who masterfully captures the sorrow, distress, and abandonment of unimaginable heartbreak that takes a piece of her with every abrupt betrayal. She dazzles with her subtlety, only to later rage in her fury. Hers is my favorite performance of the year so far.

The film will challenge you, as it did with me, and everybody else who was in the theater. Don’t dismiss it as a frenzy of unattached craziness. Aronofsky has written a deeply layered story, and one that is sadly striking and eerily familiar.

With a provocative storyline, exceptional acting, and a troubled heart, mother! is maddening in all of the best ways. It’s an allegorical wonder—a film whose burn markings may remain in the crevices of my mind for years to come. Nothing can prepare you for it.

***A fair warning: mother! Is rated R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity, and language

Sails: 4.5/5


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