Darren Aronofsky has always been fascinated to delve into religion and the macabre in all his work. And his latest, “mother!” is no exception.
An ambitious project that explores the deepest nightmares about family and the world, like all things Aronofsky, you will leave the movie with more questions than answers. But he wouldn’t want it any other way.
In the movie Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman (a name is never given in the movie, in fact, no names are given) who spends her days renovating the house she lives in with her husband (Javier Bardem), a poet who is struggling with writer’s block. But things begin to get unsettling when a stranger (Ed Harris) comes to their door.
The husband says he can stay as long as he wants, to the surprise of his wife. And things only get more weird as the stranger’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up the next day and then their sons (Brian and Domhnall Gleeson).
Throughout this the woman is taking everything in stride, following her husband’s lead and trying to cope with her guest’s unusual behavior.
But when the strangers break a crystal ornament the husband holds dear, and the the older son of the strangers attacks his younger brother, the woman has enough and demands everyone leave.
Feeling her husband doesn’t give her any attention, they get into a fight, which leads to them having sex and the next morning the woman says she’s pregnant. And the husband suddenly loses his writer’s block.
Still with me? It gets a lot stranger, but for the sake of spoilers let’s stop right here.
The movie will bring comparisons of work from Roman Polanski like “Repulsion” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, as well as Aronofsky’s early film, “Requiem for a Dream.” But as the movie evolves and you see the story Aronofsky is weaving, you can’t help to appreciate what he’s doing and how he’s doing it (especially that a studio allowed him to make it), though the story gets frustrating at times.
Then there’s the portrayal of Lawrence’s mother character, which will likely be criticized by those who want to see stronger female leads in movies. The mother is passive and submissive to her husband.
But Aronofsky doesn’t seem to be exploring positives here. Instead, he’s meshing religion, obsessions, and the hunger to believe in something with the current unsettled nature of the world to present a portrait of how we are. And it’s pretty ugly.
Sadly though, by the end of the movie you don’t really care. Aronofsky has messed with you so much, giving you so little to hold onto that by the end, when he wraps it all up in a bow, it’s too late.
“mother!” opens in theaters September 15.