A cacophony of chaos
Who or what is mother!
Have you ever walked out of the cinema lost for words?
Only once…during mother!
Yeah that’s fair, because we’re the same fucking person, mate.
Always got your back, big guy
You too, buddy.
So Mother! is the newest film from director Darren Aronofsky, and it’s arguably the most divisive big-budget film released in years. Some have denounced it as the worst movie ever made, while others have hailed it as modern masterpiece of avant-garde filmmaking.
So other than the plethora of spoiler-free reviews I glanced over, I walked into the cinema the week it released having only watched the teaser. I didn’t know what to expect, or how I’d react.
I walked out not even knowing if I liked it. Me and my flatmate spent the entire journey back home discussing it, working out what the fuck had just happened.
Days later, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, or talking about it to people at work.
So what happens?
It’s hard to go into detail without spoiling it, but on the surface, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a rather mis-matched married couple with 20-odd years between them. They live Bardem’s childhood home that burnt down in a fire, and Lawrence is renovating the property while her husband tries to overcome serious writer’s block. His last work was a bestseller, but he’s been unable to recapture that magic.
Even though the house is in the middle of nowhere (there isn’t even a driveway or path leading up to the front door), Ed Harris stumbles on the property – seemingly by accident. But Harris is a secret fan of Bardem’s work, and before long, he’s joined by his wife played with inebriated aplomb by Michelle Pfeiffer.
From there, more people start turning up at the house, and it quickly descends into utter fucking chaos. Like, Jesus Christ, some of it is the most intense, claustrophobic, and uncomfortable cinema I’ve ever seen.
Aright, chill out.
NO YOU CHILL OUT.
Anyway, I’ll leave it there, because it’s the sort of film that’s absolutely worth experiencing for yourself, and coming to your own conclusions. I can see why people love it, and I can see why people hate it.
How’s the acting?
Pretty great across the board. Lawrence is the focus of nearly every scene – literally. The camera is often right up in her face, so the film practically rides on her performance. Thankfully, she pulls it out of the bag. She goes through some harrowing shit, and she sells every part of it. The supporting cast are also great, with some nice surprise actors thrown into the mix as the film descends into chaos. I did struggle to understand Bardem on a couple of occasions, but the local cinema (the Odeon on Holloway Road STAY AWAY) is a bit gash, so could well be that the sound system exacerbated the problem.
It’s a pretty shitty cinema.
How’s it look? How’s it sound?
As has become customary in Aronofsky’s more recent work, a lot of it shoots Lawrence from behind as she wanders from room to room. The first half of the film is relatively standard fare, but the second half is where the work gets truly impressive. Aronofsky and his team nail the ‘fever dream’ once again. It’s gruelling, unpleasant, and often violent stuff.
The soundtrack, if you can call it that, is a series of repeated aural motifs – much of it creaks and bangs around the house, others link to objects or actions taking place within. There’s a couple of ‘songs’, though they take place for mere moments. There’s screaming. Explosions. Just thinking about it I’m lost for words…
So, is mother! a film worth seeing?
Love it or hate it, I have to say yes. Yes. Watch it.