A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
Jennifer Lawrence Through the Years
It is really sad for me to say this about 'Mother!' Appreciate Darren Aronofsky very highly, though totally get why his films don't click with all viewers, and really liked to loved all his pre-'Noah' films, especially 'The Wrestler' and 'Requiem for a Dream' ('Black Swan' was also great, and while it is one of his more polarising films likewise with 'The Fountain'). 'Noah' for me was a real disappointment, though it was nowhere near as bad as the initial audience response on IMDb (which was of vitriolic hate with severe objections to how the 'Noah's Ark' story was treated).
To me, 'Mother!' is Aronofsky's worst. Was expecting to be terrified and riveted but ended up being perplexed and left completely cold. Although the trailer was one of the year's best, it turned out to be one of the most misleading. Is 'Mother!' irredeemable? No, absolutely not, Aronofsky's films are at least extremely well-made and crafted and he often gets great performances out of well-chosen casts, even if there are other aspects that don't connect. Could it have been much better? Considering it had Aronofsky's name on it, that most of his previous films are examples of great film-making and that it had talent like Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, yes it should have been much better.
Where 'Mother!' fares strongly are in the visuals and the acting, pretty much the film's only near-uniformly good assets. It's a wonderful-looking film, especially in the agile and truly unsettling cinematography that gives a real disconcerting sense that there are things constantly lurking around. The production design is audacious and creepy, the house like an increasingly opening up character of its own, the lighting is rich in atmosphere and the aesthetics are more than accomplished.
Jennifer Lawrence sheds her usual quirkiness and feistiness, and gives a more vulnerable edge here which is not just wholly convincing but also very moving. Michelle Pfeiffer stands out in support in a truly startling turn, likewise with Ed Harris and their chemistry is far more interesting than that between Lawrence and Bardem. Domhall and Brian Gleeson (sons of Brendan) do very capably with little to do.
Aronofsky does bring some dynamic to his directing, if more in the style and atmosphere than in the storytelling and content.
However, 'Mother!' really is let down by that it feels incredibly muddled. Throughout there are a mishmash of tones, whether it was horror, thriller of a psychological kind, allegory and perhaps torture porn, and it all felt thrown in with not much thought in what to do with them. There are moments of an unsettled vibe, but only in spurts. A vast majority of the film has scares that are very much empty and too reliant on done to death old dark/haunted house tropes and at times unintentionally funny, the intense close ups and sudden reveals feel overused and neither provoke chills or sympathy for the protagonist (for all Lawrence's efforts).
The pacing is far too sedate to be thrilling and there is nothing sensual about the film due to the chemistry between Lawrence and Bardem being so lukewarm. 'Mother's' content is obvious a lot of the time, and the symbolism and allegorical elements came over as excessive, heavy-handed and overblown. It was not the matter of not getting them, it is the way they were used that has put people off and that it is hard telling what Aronofsky is trying to say. It was also not the matter of hating things that do things differently, have seen my fair share of unconventional films and have been impressed.
While Aronofsky succeeds in the stylistic elements and some atmosphere, the storytelling doesn't work here. The momentum is creaky constantly and the whole telling of it is strangely muddled at best and incomprehensible at worst. Particularly bad is the last half an hour, which descends into ridiculous and incoherent chaos and outlandishness. The dialogue is stilted and rambling and the characters are very thinly sketched, especially Bardem's, though Lawrence's is also too passive and is not easy to root for. There are exceptions to the acting, Bardem looks bored in his role and Kristen Wiig is completely out of place.
Overall, a disappointing film (didn't hate it, just didn't care for it) that should have delivered on creepiness but instead delivered on excessive weirdness that it has to be seen to be believed. It is not hard to see why it has polarised critics and audiences alike. 4/10 Bethany Cox
- Sep 22, 2017