mother! - This Batshit Mental Mad As All Fuck Movie Rocks
Dir: Darren Aronofsky
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, Kirsten Wiig
The screening of mother! Last Word attended was followed by a Q & A with Darren Aronofsky (his lower case) in which the writer-director asked the audience if they “spotted the metaphor?” – as in the film is really a tale of the environment and our relationship to it. The man is full of shit! Or possibly just taking the piss. Both of these are logical reactions to his mind-bending cataclysm of a film, one that, no matter how much the man doth protest about the state of the planet, is very clearly a film about creation, ego, ego run rampant, and (naturally) himself. It may - very deliberately – riff on Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. But those riffs are jazz-infused and they fly off into the director’s own stratosphere. Let’s just call it Aronofsky’s Baby. And, baby, it’s batshit mental all out excessively hubristically insanely self obsessed and self involved (they are different things!) that you can’t help but warm to it. Much as you would warm to the fires of hell itself, which this doesn’t visit, but you can clearly see it from here.
In a film in which character is subjugated to the filmmaker’s vision – Lawrence is Mother, Bardem is Him, Harris is Man, Pfeiffer is Woman and so on – Aronofsky has a hell of a cast working full pelt here (perhaps freed from the constraints of back story and so on.) Lawrence shines and drags the almost exclusively handheld camera around with her as the homemaker to the tortured poet that is her husband. It’s probably no accident that Bardem’s character is the same age as the director who is now dating his leading lady (note to Jen – that conversation about having kids is going to go weird!) Their still being rebuilt home (there has been a fire, there will be a flood – there is Biblical shit going on here from the man who made Noah) is then invaded by the mysterious and not altogether likable Harris, followed by his bitter wife Pfeiffer, and then by their two sons (the Gleeson brothers) who would be called Cane and Able were they not labelled - in Aronofsky’s style here - “Oldest Son” and “Younger Brother.” Then mother gets pregnant, Man gets past his writer’s block, the world goes crazy for poetry (then just crazy) and all hell – more or less literally – breaks loose, led by the rarely seen but brilliantly welcome Stephen McHattie (they call him “Zealot”) in what may well be Project X Meets Cannibal Holocaust.
To say the third act needs to be seen rather than discussed is a profound understatement.
Aronoksky says he likes his movies to provoke a response in his audiences and mother! is unlikely to find any agnostics out there. It’s both big and at times clever, though not as clever as the filmmaker probably thinks it is. It is after all a movie that hinges on the absolute nature and respect for the creation of art, but which in itself may actually end up saying very little indeed. It also manages to take a huge shit on its own audience as part of that debate. But then again it’s not really concerned with debate, more in delivering a deeply unhinged and extremely visceral experience.
Audacious and as mad as all fuck. And these are not bad things.
mother! opens September 15
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