TIFF 2017 Review: mother! is Darren Aronofsky’s Brilliant WTF Wake Up Call.
There were rumors floating around that mother! was actually a remake of the horror classic Rosemary’s Baby but that isn’t true at all. Darren Aronofsky’s latest film mother! is without question his most brilliant film to date. While the verdict is still out as to what Aronofsky is ultimately trying to say with his latest film, there is no denying that mother! is a conversation starter.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a married couple who live in the middle of nowhere. Neither one of them have names and are simply billed in the credits as Mother and Him. As a married couple, they seem rather distant. They spend most of their time in separate rooms and don’t interact with one another all that often. He is a poet while she spends her time cleaning up and fixing their home. On one random evening, a couple hears a knock on the door. A strange man (Ed Harris) is at the door and he claims to be a doctor. While neither one of them know who this man is, he stays as a guest in their house for the night.
The next morning the man’s wife played by Michelle Pfeiffer shows up and like him is welcomed into the house without a blink of an eye. Mother begins to wonder why a strange man and his wife are in her home but her husband ignores her concern. Instead, he spends all his time around them and lets them know that they are more than welcome to stay for as long as they would like.
The film continues to get stranger and stranger minute by minute. While the man and his wife are spending time with mother’s husband, Mother continues to paint and fix up her home. She begins to see and hear things around the house. There is what sounds like a heartbeat from inside the walls and subtle noises which occur throughout the house. She even finds a small hole in the floor that seems to be bleeding. This is all very strange but trust me, this is only the beginning.
While some might hate the fact that mother! doesn’t lay everything out for the viewer that is actually what I loved the most about the film. I like when a film holds my attention, keeps me invested and yet somehow, I walk out of the theater asking myself “what the fuck did I just watch?” We have become far too conditioned where most studio films provide the audience with all the answers. None of that applies here.
Aronofsky shoots a good chunk of the film with extreme close-up shots. This gives off the perception that the film is being told from Lawrence’s point of view which helps to make the viewer feel as uncomfortable as Lawrence is throughout the film. At certain points in the film, I felt like I was in the moment with her and so whenever she felt nervous, I felt nervous too. These particular shots also feel claustrophobic at times which only adds to the power of the overall film.
Jennifer Lawrence is terrific in this film. Her performance is unlike anything she has ever done before. Lawrence is the focal point for most the film’s runtime so a lot of it lies directly on her shoulders. Her performance is raw and brave. There are several unforgettable moments throughout the film and each one is centered around Lawrence’s character. One involves a baby and a crowd while another involves a pretty violent fight.
Javier Bardem is great as always as the distant husband of Mother. He has a few scenes where he flips out and those are some pretty awesome moments. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are fantastic as the house guests from Hell. Both of them know how to build the mystery of their characters and you can’t help but be intrigued by these characters even though as the viewer, you don’t necessarily feel comfortable watching them.
There is no denying after seeing mother! that Aronofsky is a strange man with some really deep psychological issues. He has created this film almost just to see and hear the reactions of those who witness it. It was so amusing being at TIFF and listening to him tell the entire Princess of Wales theater that they had no idea what they were in store for.
mother! is a polarizing film that will leave audiences divided. I can totally understand how and why someone wouldn’t like this film but I found it to be a brilliant and one of a kind masterpiece. mother! is one of the most memorable films of the year and is bound to get people talking. It’s entertaining, engaging, and leaves the audience with plenty to think about upon exiting the theater.
While I have my own theory about what the film is ultimately about, I decided not to share my take in this review for the simple fact that I didn’t want to affect the experience for those who have yet to see it. I think there will be plenty of discussion over the next few months about what mother! is ultimately about so feel free to leave a comment below after seeing it and share your theories on the film.
Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel’s rating for mother! is a 9.5 out of 10.