It is awards season, which means the film community is embroiled in debates regarding who got snubbed, who should win etc. etc. Whilst all the awards are arguably unnecessary, there is one particular show which is nothing more than a joke. That is the Razzies, which “celebrates” the worst of cinema in the year gone by. Sure, nobody pays attention to the awards, but this year something caught my eye. Amongst the many noms for the likes of Transformers, The Mummy and Baywatch, the unique mother! received nominations for Worst Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Worst Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem) and Worst Director (Darren Aronofsky). This struck me as completely bizarre. So here is a refute of that assessment, by means of a review I wrote when the film first came out but for some reason never published.
mother! follows Jennifer’s Lawrence titular character who lives out in the wilderness with her husband (Javier Bardem), simply known as Him. He is a struggling poet, who can’t find it within him to write. Whilst she works on the house, building it up piece by piece. The unexpected arrival of Ed Harris’s Doctor begins a chain of events that descend the house into mayhem. To say much more would be to give away exactly what this movie is about.
This is an insane film. I’ll start by saying that. Whilst it starts at a snail’s pace it grows into something that is in equal parts utterly disturbing and completely jaw-dropping. Don’t go in expecting a by the numbers horror film as some of the misleading trailers suggest. Sure in a way it is a home invasion movie I suppose (and the most terrifying in recent memory), but it is so much more. Expect a horror and you are bound to be disappointed. This is ambitious and unique film-making that is honestly unlike anything else you’ll see this year. Simply enter the theatre with an open mind.
With mother! Aronofsky aims for pure artistry. As the story progresses it becomes more and more obvious that he is speaking in allegories. What particular allegory you prescribe to is really up to preference. There are two obvious metaphors which I will not delve too deeply into because I want to avoid spoilers. The first is the religious. Aronofsky’s last film Noah was obviously about faith, and he has never shied away from the subject, for example in The Fountain. Here he takes faith as a whole and moulds it into a small story about two people in a house. And the way he does it is so magnificent, so unbelievable, that it seems unthinkable that nobody has done it before.
A second glance brings about thoughts regarding the artist and his pursuit. Javier Bardem’s Him is a creative who cannot create, and when he does, he is enamoured by the adoration of his fans. He is arrogant and egotistical, a sponge soaking up the love of others. None more so than Jennifer Lawrence’s Mother.
But the most terrifying way to view it is at its face value. The scenes are shocking, repulsive, and utterly unmissable. Jennifer Lawrence’s Mother is heart-breaking in her actions, a loving, compassionate woman who is our eyes in the complete madness that surrounds her. She is the voice of sense, and we feel pain for her, we feel her anger and her wrath.
This is a movie that needs to be watched and re-watched in order to soak in every last detail. Aronofsky is one of very few filmmakers today who can make extraordinary, unique movies like this and see it played in a mainstream cinema. His vision and absolute audacity for making this movie must be applauded. Even if you don’t care for the imagery about religion, environmental issues or creativity, go for a movie that will blow you away and leave you reeling.