Mother!

Mother!

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Running Time: 123 minutes


This film had its final screening at The Nightlight on October 19, 2017.

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a husband and wife whose isolated house is invaded by another married couple in Darren Aronofsky’s black-comic nightmare.

It’s a powerful enough word at the best of times, but the exclamation mark gives it that edge of delirium and melodrama and despair – just the way Norman Bates yells it at the end of Psycho. Or maybe we’re supposed to hear a second, brutal two-syllable word immediately afterwards. Darren Aronofsky’s toweringly outrageous film leaves no gob unsmacked. It is an event-movie detonation, a phantasmagorical horror and black-comic nightmare that jams the narcosis needle right into your abdomen. Mother! escalates the anxiety and ups the ante of dismay with every scene, every act, every trimester, taking us in short order from WTF to WTAF to SWTAF and beyond.

It’s a very bad dream of very bad things: influenced perhaps by Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby or Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel and I suspect that Aronofsky has fallen under the spell of the dark master of offensive mischief himself, Lars Von Trier and his horror film Antichrist. But it is as deadpan comedy that this film can be understood: a macabre spectacle of revulsion, a veritable agape of chaos. The opening act gives us a view of a human heart being flushed down the lavatory - as good an image as any for the film’s mysterious, hallucinatory callousness. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are tremendously operatic as the leads and it is great to welcome Michelle Pfeiffer back to the big screen in a pleasingly cruel supporting role.

Mother! in its way reminded me of the musical The Book of Mormon: it could be about the birth of a new religion with all the irrational absurdity, vanity and celebrity worship that this entails. Or it could be a satirical portrait of a marriage and the humiliation involved in catering for a sleekly pompous man old enough to be your father. But maybe it is just about the gleeful anarchy involved in destruction, in simply taking the audience on a series of stomach-turning quantum leaps into madness. As horror it is ridiculous, as comedy it is startling and hilarious, and as a machine for freaking you out it is a thing of wonder.

~~ Peter Bradshaw, theguardian.com