Pusher of boundaries Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) is back pushing boundaries with Mother!
Jennifer Lawrence (Passengers, American Hustle) lives with her husband Javier Bardem (Skyfall, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge) in a large, creaky and in need of TLC home in the middle of nowhere.
The relationship between the two appears a tad strained and becomes more so when Ed Harris (Geostorm, Gravity) turns up out of the blue on their doorstep.
It transpires that Harris is a huge fan of Bardem’s writing, although Bardem is currently going through a period of writer’s block and believes that letting this stranger into his home might help.
Harris meanwhile has invited his wife along, Michelle Pfeiffer (Murder On The Orient Express, Dangerous Minds), both of whom proceed to make themselves at home, with liberties.
Next, their sons arrive: Brian Gleeson (Logan Lucky, Assassin’s Creed) and Domhall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant) and then more of the family, then more people and more people and on it goes.
As reality, and time, is thrown out of the window, the house gets trashed, a cult starts, people die, a baby is born, riots happen and, seemingly, war breaks out.
It’s mad, it’s bonkers, it’s Aronofsky in full-on, free-reign mode. It’s Mother!
You’ll have no doubt read a bit about Mother! Already, how it’s splitting people straight down the middle, not literally, but, like Marmite, it seems you either love it or hate it.
Just to be awkward, I found it somewhere in the middle. I applaud directors who push boundaries, granted it doesn’t always work and on those occasions the results can be truly awful, but sometimes it does work.
With Mother!, the concept is good, that I liked, the problem is in the execution. It’s a slow, turgid affair and, to me at least, was very obvious what the situation was. I mean, I’m not usually one who ‘guesses’ the twist in a film, so if it was obvious to me then it must be glaring to anyone else?
Once you realise what’s going on, you just want to get to the point of it all. See the twist, understand the reasons, move on with your life.
But Aronofsky drags it out for over two-hours with periods of little to no dialogue, inane tasks and scenes which could quite easily have been left on the cutting room floor.
He relies heavily on his leading lady. A large proportion of the shots are close-ups and we follow Lawrence around like a love-sick newlywed with a video camera.
Luckily, Lawrence is more than up to the task and gives a wonderful and intense performance, matched in intenseness by Bardem.
Mother! is an assault on the senses, mostly from a noise point of view, there’s always some sound of some description, usually heightened. Visually, well, I hope you like old, creaky houses and if you don’t, you get to see one getting ripped apart.
I can understand both the praise and derision Mother! has received, I can completely see how it will split people. I’m glad I’ve seen it, but equally, I’m glad I waited too.