Unpredictable, terrifying, and completely unforgettable, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is like nothing you’ve seen before.
It’s refreshing to see a marketing campaign like the one for Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, mother! The trailers have been shrouded in secrecy, and the posters have been nothing short of magnificent. One of the major posters in the campaign cleverly mimics the poster for Roman Polanski’s 60’s horror classic, Rosemary’s Baby. Its remarkably misleading, suggesting that mother! is more of an homage than anything else. While Aronofsky’s latest film certainly references past classics, it is a wholly original experience. The secrecy is essential, and the entire experience benefits from knowing virtually nothing about the film.
Aronofsky is no stranger to ambition – his feature debut , Pi, is a black-and-white psychological thriller that detfly blends religious spirituality and mathematics. His films are often thrilling and disturbing in nature, and Aronofsky has become known for tackling hugely ambitious concepts. His films are often marked by a chilling discomfort, as his most well known films, Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan can certainly attest to. If you have seen previous Aronofsky films, then you already have some sort of an idea of what to expect walking in. What’s certain is that mother! is the most…well, Aronofsky film Darren Aronofsky has ever made. It is a writer and director at his most personal, most unhinged, and most unpredictable.
The premise is a simple one: a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her husband (Javier Bardem) reside in an enormous and remote country home. She is undergoing the process of renovating every last inch of their house, while he is trying to write his next novel. When a man (Ed Harris) suddenly appears at their house at night, things begin to spiral. Saying any more plot details would certainly alter the experience, but think of it this way: mother! is like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf plus Misery multiplied by a lethal dose of acid.
Subtlety is something that is often coveted in cinema, which is a concept that Aronofsky has clearly never heard of. mother! is a tremendously visceral experience from its first moments, and only gets crazier, and more and more unpredictable as it goes on. Aronofsky’s use of surrealism throughout his career is also evident here, but this time it is cranked up to new heights: Salvador Dali himself would blush at just how surreal everything gets.
I have seen more films than the average person can even fathom, and I have to say that mother! evoked a reaction in me I have never experienced before. Such a wide range of emotions washed over me while watching the film: fear, rage, disgust, bewilderment, and the lasting sense that what I was watching was truly special. This is a tremendously divisive film, and walking out apathetic simply is not possible. The film is genuinely bonkers, and throws away subtle metaphors and barrages the viewer with an endless supply of sights and sounds. You will feel uncomfortable. You will laugh, you will be frightened, you will be upset, and you will be disturbed.
In a world where sequels and remakes clog the multiplexes, its almost unfathomable that a film as twisted and unique as mother! exists. Even more remarkable is the fact that it was produced by Paramount, a major Hollywood studio. We may never know just how something this insane and brilliant was greenlit, but by going to the cinema to see it, we may just get something this fresh, exciting, and bewildering again. Beloved comedy This is Spinal Tap taught us to crank it up to eleven. In mother!, Darren Aronofsky cranks it up to one-hundred and eleven, creating a world with great performances, world class sound-design, perfectly claustrophobic cinematography and masterful direction. This film deserves the big screen, and you may never see anything like it again.
mother! is out in cinemas now.