Mother!

Film, Drama
5 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
Mother!

This in-your-face psycho-horror starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem is so much more than a haunted house movie – it‘s bold, barmy and brilliant

‘Baby?’ That’s the first thing we hear in Darren Aronofsky’s unhinged psychodrama, an instant landmark of test-your-limits cinema. It’s the gentle, groggy call of a young wife whose name is never mentioned (Jennifer Lawrence, increasingly rattled) who wakes up alone in bed, uncertain where her intense poet husband (Javier Bardem) is or her general status in the isolated farmhouse they’re renovating. But ‘Baby?’ is also a clue into the deeper mummy drama to come. Will there be a baby for them? And if so, when? Will it be too soon, or not soon enough? To compare ‘Mother!’ to other mama-minded thrillers like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘Don’t Look Now’, ‘Antichrist’ and ‘The Babadook’ is almost selling it short. This one’s a crucible of sweaty pre-natal panic, weird knocks at the door, mind games and ultimately, a roaring, miniature apocalypse set inside a single claustrophobic living room. If that already sounds like your home, it’s time to go and give it a try.

Apart from The Wrestler’, Aronofsky prefers things greenish and sick-looking, like the open sores of ‘Black Swan’ and ‘Requiem for a Dream’. ‘Mother!’ is firmly in that tradition, but there’s exquisite control in the way this writer-director eases us into his nightmare, working from an original script that must represent hundreds of hours of therapy. There’s a tension between this couple: a war of aloofness and neediness. Bardem’s character has one of those precious creative routines that requires an imposing amount of solitude. She, meanwhile, smears different shades of puke-coloured gunk on the wall out of boredom. Already we feel their disconnection, so when mysterious guests start showing up, including a hacking, smoking doctor (Ed Harris) and his unkempt, half-drunk wife (Michelle Pfeiffer, reviving her glorious Catwoman purr), you feel for Lawrence, cleaning up their mess and enduring their judgy scowls.

So far, so Polanskian. Given how deliciously unsettling this first hour is, it’s hard to know precisely when the movie slips the leash of reality. Is it when two furious adult brothers (Brian and Domhnall Gleeson) barge in and start punching each other? Or when blood seeps out of an orifice in the floorboards? ‘Mother!’ is a movie that invents new shades of mania. After much screaming, destruction of furniture, an impromptu eulogy and even some long-belated screwing, Lawrence turns to Bardem and smiles a crazy grin. She’s expecting and she knows it. This is the moment when Aronofsky doubles down, building a calamitous swirl of violence around his heavily pregnant hero who’s suddenly in her third trimester. You cringe at the viciousness.

Grappling with this powerhouse sequence – steeped in gore, religious symbolism, hundreds of marauding strangers (including a spooky Kristen Wiig) and sheer chutzpah – is the moviegoing challenge of the year. ‘Mother!’ is, without doubt, the most radical studio film since ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, and your disbelief at its daring will be part of the fun. Matthew Libatique’s camera, hovering close to Lawrence’s brow like an angel of sympathy, helps us into her emotions, but just as powerfully Aronofsky weaves in a savage indictment of ‘artistic’ male ego and entitlement that makes his climax feel self-critical. In an intensely personal way, ‘Mother!’ is an apology to anyone who’s ever felt eaten alive by love at its most selfish. Naturally, it’s required viewing for married couples.

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Release date: Friday September 15 2017
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Screenwriter: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence
Javier Bardem
Ed Harris
Michelle Pfeiffer

Average User Rating

2.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:7
  • 1 star:3
LiveReviews|14
3 people listening
1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Not so much a horror film, more of a psychological thriller, with slight horror aspects to it. The film in its entirety is exceptionally confusing, but also very disturbing. Jennifer Lawrence does well!

1 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

This is a wild & alarming piece. It is full of heavy images open to interpretation. To me it was a horror film about fame, religion, & child birth.

It's not an easy view, but for once the publicity is right, you may love or hate it , but you won't forget it.


1 of 2 found helpful

Wait what?! Did you actually watch this movie or were you given some kickback for the 5star review or something?!! Thanks Joshua for ruining my perfect date!!! I only went to see this movie because of your rating. It was a waste of my 2hrs!! You should be fired for this criminal review. Timeout should be weary of people like you!! I hate you Joshua Rothkopf!!!😡

Tastemaker

This is a movie that you will either love or hate. I am on the side of the absolute love. Darren Aronofsky is my number one director and once again he didn't dissapoint me at all. Don't stay on what you just see but try to explore what lies underneath each scene. A dark, full of metaphors masterpiece.

Tastemaker

If you haven’t heard by now that you’ll either love or hate mother!, then you’ve been living in a cave for the past six months. What that probably also means is that you’ve been lucky enough to escape actually watching this horrendously pretentious piece of film-making.


If you come out of a film unsure as to what the point or the message of it was, that’s the fault of a self-indulgent director who wanted to make the film HE wanted to make more than he cared about taking every member of his audience on the ride with him. I’m not saying for one minute that I want everything explained to me or that I expect everyone to react to films the same way but if I have to Google a film to get any sense of comprehension afterwards? That’s a problem. 


Whilst the final third of the film is especially ridiculous, the whole movie is full of violence that’s both difficult to watch and in some places, quite un-necessary. Never one to normally give away a spoiler, I would say if you’re pregnant, have just had a baby or, even more importantly, have lost a baby, then this film will be particularly hard to stomach.


I’ve liked director Darren Aronofsky’s previous work although I have to say it’s never easy to watch and I’ve generally never wanted to go back and revisit his work. I also find Jennifer Lawrence incredibly watchable so the prospect of this being mainly her film was a positive for me…it’s such a shame that this film didn’t give her any strength of character whatsoever. Sure I rooted for her from the opening scenes and I was silently screaming at the screen for her to run, run, run away but sadly, she was deaf to my pleas. Every other single person on screen was vile and it’s hard to want to spend time with people you hate. 


I suppose you can say kudos to a director who can create people so awful I’d rather spend a lifetime alone than share space and time with them but all I can say in response is that that seems a painful way to spend my movie-going time.

tastemaker

I don't know what to say ..... I literally don't.. I have no idea what I watched! I don't know whether it was a thriller,horror or fantasy!!!?!

The plot is slow and unadventurous.... But it leaves you wondering what's going to happen! What did happen was so far fetched and wild in a weird way that I'm still trying to figure out what actually happened!!!

Honestly its one of those movies you walk away from questioning what. Why . and who!

I can't understand it ..... I'm still so confused!

Tastemaker

This is a very tense and well-crafted film. It's also profoundly silly despite taking itself very seriously. It should have either leaned into the craziness, by going gleefully over the top, or restrained itself and tried to remain somewhat realistic. As well, the scene of Jennifer Lawrence being beaten by cultists while her breasts become artfully exposed is distasteful on several levels; is the audience supposed to feel complicit in watching this, or are the filmmakers just self-indulgently leering while pretending to be saying something artful? Unfortunately, the trajectory of this film suggests the latter. 

Tastemaker

Mother! Is quite a film. I can’t say I liked it,actually I won’t say I liked it. There were points when I actually hated it. I felt like my eyes were defiled in self indulgent and grotesque film making. I like Darren Aronofsky, he has made some fantastic films. I am also a fan of the alternative when it comes to cinema. I don’t like uber ‘Hollywood’ type films, you won’t find me seeing Kingsman or that one with Ryan Gosling etc. I was looking forward to seeing Mother! I knew it was of a sensitive and uncomfortable nature. I didn’t mind that. I kind of wanted that. It was uncomfortable like Dogville (Lars Von Trier) but with an absolute lack of originality, proper stakes or, to be honest, sense of what it was trying to say. It was stressful watch Jennifer Lawrence put in a house of madness and mania, I did feel sorry for her. I felt like I was waiting for something else to happen or for there to be some form of arc in the film but it was just a rollercoaster of nastiness from the start and it’s unrelenting. The end made me go ‘oh,ah ok.I could have guessed that.’ It’s a film that thinks it is more cleaver than it is. I know the rule that every story has been told because there is only 7 of them BUT it’s not really that,I am familiar with the fact we are living in a world of tropes, it’s the way you tell it. I was grossed out and bored all at the same time. I am a bit sick of seeing women in cinema being depicted as femme fatale’s (Pfeiffer) or distressed damsels (Lawrence…and her nipples through a white nighty,perrrrleeease). There is a whole spectrum in between. It was underwhelming. I am just pleased they had good slush at the cinema to keep me going! 


The critics have been divided on director Darren Aronofsky’s new film — “work of inspired genius” or “load of unadulterated twaddle”?


I enjoyed his much-acclaimed and multi-awarded movie “Black Swan” a few years back so I had to give this one a go and my own verdict falls at the lower end of the extremes quoted above.


A poet with writer’s block and his adoring young wife are living in rural tranquility until a mysterious visitor appears at their door. Claiming to be a doctor, he is welcomed by the poet but the next day his wife turns up and they settle in comfortably.


In the meantime, there’s lots of strange noises, odd incidents, creepy music and mysterious oozing bloodstains on the floor.


To the increasing distress of the poet’s partner, the couple are then joined by the visitors’ feuding sons, one of whom dies in a scuffle.

I was pleasantly reminded of Luis Bunuel as more and more strangers invade the house for the funeral to the apparent joy of the poet and the despair of his wife.


A few bewildered punters watching with me — no doubt expecting a conventional Hollywood weirdo-fest and pulled in by two top Hollywood stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem - quietly exited the multiplex but your intrepid writer persevered as the film launched into ever more extravagant scenes.


The poet becomes unblocked and his house is besieged by adoring fans and we are treated to rioting, bangs, fighting and explosions, which made my recent visit to IMAX to see “Dunkirk” seem mild in comparison. I won't cover any of the more shocking scenes involving gruesome murders and violations here.


It’s not often in my multi-decade cine experiences that I have to resort to looking for explanations for what a movie is all about after I have seen it, but to sum up the thousands of erudite words on the internet, we are told the whole thing is biblical and an allegory of the book of Genesis.


Well, blow me down, I’d never have guessed.


You have been warned.

tastemaker

Would I recommend this film? Certainly not! Will you be entertained? Only using your back muscles as you sit on the edge of your seat. It is unsettling and uncomfortable viewing. Like a nightmare that won't go away. It's all very well being told afterwards that it is an allegory . Think Mother Earth , sustainability and destroying our planet. Had I known this before, would it have made a difference? I don't think so. The only reason it has two stars, is because the one-star option wouldn't work!


I'm afraid I entirely agree with JJ.  This really is the most appalling drivel.  Two hours of wholly unpleasant, nasty torture. I can't help but suspect that this is what happens when people get too famous, are allowed indulge themselves making this kind of nonsense and nobody has the courage to tell them to stop.  If you decide to view the film despite this review and are then tempted to walk out half way through, then my advice is to do so.  The film starts badly, gets steadily worse and there is no remarkable plot twist at the end to rescue it.  I am from the Tunbridge Wells area and I am disgusted.

tastemaker

Unwanted house guests... they're about as enjoyable as this film. And that's pretty much all that this film is about; interspersed with shaky close-ups of an increasingly bemused Jennifer Lawrence as more people make themselves comfortable in her house without her invitation.


Increasingly claustrophobic and dark (both literally and metaphorically), the film spirals into the downright bonkers by the end of its rather testing 2hr run time. Some of its most depraved moments had me laughing in sheer horror and, given how disturbing it gets, my biggest shock was the fact that none of my fellow cinema goers left before the mind-boggling climax.


This not a film for those of a nervous disposition.  Nor is it a film for those you have been in any truly difficult circumstances like Aleppo or Raqqa where there is any possibility of PTSD.  If you do go then stay to the end.  There will be a time when you might well wonder if that is a good idea.  

So why 4 stars?  Well here is material in these 2 hours that could well be an allegory for the downside of fame.  You create something, not including a baby, and low and behold it takes over your life and you lose control.  Its just that this film winds up the volume on that...a lot.  Be warned and stay till the end. 


This film is memorably terrible. If I could give it minus five stars I would. Please don't waste your time.