OldKingClancy posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: 3 months ago



Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, Kristen Wiig, Domhnall Gleeson
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Official Site:
Plot: Motherfucker


This is gonna be a difficult film to talk about without spoilers so if I let anything slip I apologise, truthfully though you should have already seen mother! before reading this review because it’s a film worth knowing as little about it as possible before going in. That way you can hate it on your own terms because trust me, this will piss off a LOT of people.

But if you’re into weird, creepy shit like me, you might love it.

The film opens with a young woman – named only as Mother – and her older husband, Him, fixing up their home, the house was the childhood home of Him but it burnt down in a fire, Mother has been rebuilding it while Him has been trying to find new ideas for his poetry writing. They live a peaceful, tranquil life alone in the country, however that life is interrupted by the arrival of Man, an elderly doctor who arrives believing the place to be a bed & breakfast, rather than throw Man out into the night, Him allows Man to sleep in one of their spare bedrooms, much to Mother’s annoyance.

Not long afterwards, Man’s wife Woman arrives and makes her presence known with some uncomfortable gossip, Him allows them both to stay but after one too many tragic accidents – including the untimely arrival of Man and Woman’s two sons – Mother tries to get them to leave but Him wants them to stay, enjoying the passion they have for his poems.

From here the film goes into some really fucked up territory and I really don’t want to go too deep into it, the entire third act of the film takes the craziness level to 11 once Him’s words start being taking as a form of gospel and the insanity that Mother is bombarded with takes her on a journey that words cannot describe and that’s not event the worst of it. There’s some heavy biblical allegory going on here and it’s not pleasant, it really hits home in that third act with some bible translations being taking VERY literally and very graphically, however since reading up on some portions I missed the entire film has some form of religious allegory coursing through it. Some might find it heavy-handed and others are definitely gonna be pissed off when they see what unsavoury things Aranofsky has to say but it’s bold and it’s uncomfortable and it’s original.

Though be warned, even if you’ve seen a trailer this film has not been marketed properly, then again there is no proper way to market this film or prepare anyone for what they will sit through.

Acting is strong throughout though its fitting of the film’s uncomfortable tones and a lot of character action will seem confusing, again back to that final act and even in the time before it, the weird and unpredictable manner in which people behave just adds to the insanity. For example, when Man and Woman’s sons – Domhnall and Brian Gleeson – turn up they almost immediately kick things off in a very violent manner then are never seen again.

Man and Woman – Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer – are both relatively normal but they introduce the strangeness to the film, Harris is arguably the most normal character of the film but he appears form nowhere with a sickly cough and a bad habit of smoking indoors. You never really now where his true intentions lie and once you find out he’s a fan of Him’s works you can’t help but wonder what brought him to the house, however there is something genuine about him, he feels like the only person that truly connected with Him in a meaningful way. Woman on the other hand was a much more antagonistic force, a seductive temptress – though that could’ve just been Pfeiffer cause goddamn – who revelled in her sexuality and in making Mother uncomfortable with her frank discussions. In quite the opposite to her husband, Woman often comes off as cold and distant, especially in the second act she becomes quite emotionless, not that it’s without its reasons but you’d expect her to be acting more like her husband and vice-versa.

Javier Bardem plays Him and once again you’re never sure where your feelings are suppose to lie with him, at times he’s warm and inviting, in particular to Man, at others he’s cold and aloof and sometimes flat out angry at people. His relationship with Mother is a strange one because while he describes her as being his muse and breathing life back into his home, she notices plenty of times where he’ll ignore her or make decisions without consulting her and you’re left feeling that they’re relationship isn’t as perfect as either of them think. Bardem has this great quality where he’s able to switch attitudes on a dime, when the attention is lavished on him he’s warm, smiling and carefree, happy to be the centre of attention, but if anyone crosses him, even his own wife, then the cold, haunting stare lingers on them, I got heavy No Country flashbacks at points.

Finally there was Jennifer Lawrence as Mother, and I know Lawrence has gotten some flack recently for her seemingly put-on persona and sleep-walking through some of the X-Men films but I still maintain her as one of the better working actresses today and this is up there as one of her best performances – and not because she spends most of her time in see-through tops. She appears quite timid at first, rarely raising her voice and trying hard to avoid conflict where possible, often looking to Him for safety and support, however she comes to realise he might be the one forcing this madness upon her. We’re following the film though her eyes and the confusion she has to suffer through we suffer at the same time and it gets rough at points, Lawrence is put through the fucking ringer with this film and it takes a lot out of her but she sells the hell out of it. Her reaction to the film’s sure-to-be most infamous scene is fucking visceral.

The film is directed by Darren Aranofsky who is no stranger to controversy, be it drug abuse in Requiem For A Dream, psycho-lesbian sex in Black Swan or even previous touching on religion with his last film Noah. With this tough, it feels like Aranofsky went all-out this is designed to be controversial, it is designed to piss people off but it’s designed to be as bold and as unflinching as possible, it’ll be harsh and it’ll be confusing – people are already giving it an F rating on Cinemascore – but it’s one of the few modern arguments for films as an art-form where everyone will take to it in a different fashion.

I know that probably sounds pretentious but shut up, this is my review and I’ll be as pretentious as I damn well want to be.

Aside from the biblical references this is absolutely a horror movie and Aranofsky directs it as such, the cinematography captures a sense of claustrophobic dread, there are a lot of scenes which close-up on Lawrence’s face and it feels like it suffocating her, every line of fear can be counted and recognises. At certain points Aranofsky employs a strange shaking effect that disorientates the viewer, because we’re seeing the film through Mother’s eyes Aranofsky uses this effect to play around with the timeline, once that third act hits things happen in an impossible timeline but Aranofsky recognises that and is always keeping his audience one step behind so they have no idea what to expect. Finally there was the sound design, not something I would normally touch upon and in fact I thought it was just my cinema at first, but Aranofsky has deliberately gone out of his way to make each little creak and scratch as loud as possible to keep with the sense of danger and madness, he wants that house to feel like its own character and I think he pulls it off, so much happens throughout that you can’t help but feel like the house is its own entity with whimpers and groans punctuated throughout.

I honestly wish I could go into further detail on what makes mother! work so well but the film is best viewed blind because the experience is worth it. I already know people are gonna hate this film and people might hate me for recommending it but know that I am not recommending you to like this film, I’m recommending you to watch it because it has been far too long since we’ve had a film this brave, this uncomfortable and this original and it deserves to be seen, even if you do hate it.

8.5/10, though I am tempted to give it a 9, maybe on revisits.


Other reviews of this film: cerealkiller182 (9/10) , oscarxp25 (8/10) > Display all
timmyd at 06:45 PM Sep 18

I am a fellow fan of the weird and creepy , and yes , in fact , I did love it . I can see where a lot of the steam over this flick is coming from , but it's an Aronofsky film , it's probably not gonna appeal to the masses . I think it's Lawrence's best work since kicking things off in WINTER'S BONE . She's , like you said , put through the wringer here , and her performance is aces . Kudos to the studio for giving this the release it got . We could use more , if you ask me.

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