Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog


Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on October 15, 2017 at 4:00 PM

MOTHER!   ***

Darren Aronofsky


IDEA:  A homemaker and her author husband are visited by a series of unexpected guests, transforming their placid, isolated home into a chaotic nightmare.

BLURB:  Excessive and unwieldy by (thrilling) design, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a gallimaufry of anxieties and grandiose artistic statements filtered through religious allegory. The symbolism, and the filmmaking, is as gratuitous and unabashed as the debauchery that erupts into the film’s fragile Eden. Aronofsky’s condensed, audacious Genesis-to-Revelation narrative is laden with an arsenal of jarring temporal dislocations, nightmarishly amplified sound effects, and woozy camera movements that help to evoke the film's sundry vague but viscerally felt terrors. These range from bodily abjection to domestic invasion and social anxiety, destructive egotism and powerlessness, creative obsession, environmental degradation, misogyny, and entropy. All of these are either inherited by or inflicted upon Jennifer Lawrence’s mother, whose symbolic status as a kind of Mother Earth is eclipsed by her function as a beleaguered audience surrogate vexed by an absurd, irrational world. An inherently reactive part, the role nevertheless results in the actress’s best performance yet, Lawrence inhabiting a dizzying spectrum of physical and psychological torments with go-for-broke commitment. Aronofsky’s own chutzpah may have the tendency to spiral out of control, but he maintains a command of the form that, depending on the degree to which one surrenders to his vision, goes some way toward forgiving his self-aggrandizing depiction of the artist as megalomaniacal-but-divine creator. If nothing else, even though it’s a lot else, mother! is always inventive and excitingly nervy, a Grand Guignol of human nature where hell truly is other people.

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