Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a couple living in relative seclusion inside a dilapidated property after a house fire. During the days she renovates the interior whilst he struggles with his poetry. Slowly strangers start to arrive at the house and gradually insinuate themselves into the couple’s lives.
‘Mother!’ Is a divisive movie. Like director Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Fountain’, this is a film that is going to polarise opinion because the longer you watch it, the more obvious it becomes that its sole intent is to provoke. Riffing on both themes and characters from such horror classics as Roman’s Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and the unwelcomeness of strangers from Harold Pinter plays, ‘Mother!’ is a movie that is as divorced from reality as it is from its title.
As more of a companion piece to Andrzej Zulawski’s ‘Possession’ (with Isabelle Adjani’s infamous break-down scene) ‘Mother!’ is an intentionally non-sensical drama that beguiles you with the hope of eventual meaning. However in its absurdist and farcical escalation of events, this horror movie never makes good on either its promises or shocks.
’Mother!’s’ story can be taken as realistic, fantastical or allegorical…
Straining for credibility as much as it does validity, ’Mother!’s’ story can be taken as realistic, fantastical or allegorical. However when all its contradictory bullets have been fired, it still fatally wounds itself as it grasps for significance in an escalating mish-mash of action and portentous dialogue.
Neither as entertaining as ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, as unsettling as ‘Don’t Look Now’, ‘Mother!’ flounders with a cyclical ending that neither works nor justifies the previous two hours of escalating melodrama. Instead ‘Mother!’ disguises its intentions with the committed acting of its A-list cast and the virtuosity of its execution. Where ‘Get Out’ knew how far to stretch its thin elastic of credibility for both darkly comic and absorbing effect, ‘Mother!’ does not.
Locked in a spin cycle of indifferent releases such as ‘Noah’ and the in-part entertaining ‘Black Swan’, Aronofksy now looks a shadow of the director who magnetised us with ‘Pi’, ‘Requiem For A Dream’ or ‘The Wrestler’. With a story that neither asks questions nor provides answers, ‘Mother!’ coyly ducks behind his back catalogue as an indulgence that only makes nods and gestures towards drama.
Whilst the acting is committed, the characterisation of its leads, and women in particular, leans towards the suspect. Why does Jennifer Lawrence’s character care so much and yet have so little respect for herself? Because the director told her to – and there you have it. ‘Mother!’ is not so much a film to believe in as one to test your disbelief – and despite its two hours running time, you won’t have long to wait.