September 11, 2017

CINEMA | Jennifer Lawrence's Nightmare – 'Mother!'

"I'm just going to start the apocalypse."
Jennifer Lawrence Javier Bardem Darren Aronofsky | Mother!

Idiosyncratic filmmaker Darren Aronofsky returns to female-focused, horror-tinged psychological thrillers (sort of) with actress Jennifer Lawrence in the totally batsh*t crazy Mother! Aronofsky's film is nearly indescribable, if often exhilarating in its audaciousness. It's essentially a sort of fever dream allegory of creation involving biblical themes as the writer/director constructs his latest as a series of madcap sequences centred on one woman's descent into complete nightmarish destruction inside her doomed home.

Javier Bardem co-stars as possibly the world's worst husband. He's a frustrated, self-obsessed poet desperate for adoration who welcomes the presence of a series of mysterious and increasingly unwelcome houseguests. Their May/December relationship and Lawrence's seemingly blind, undying love and devotion play into the intriguing thematic tension of the characters.

A very off-putting Ed Harris and truly devilish Michelle Pfeiffer put Lawrence's unnamed protagonist through a series rude situations as said guests exasperate her and the audience to no end. The carefree tension and breaking down of social norms is almost as frightening as the later acts of defiant violence.

Jennifer Lawrence Darren Aronofsky | Mother!

It's almost unbelievable this film was made by a major studio in today's age. Lawrence's performance is both restrained and passive yet bravely visceral as the absurd destruction around her escalates. The religious plot points and bizarrely brazen references to Christ, Eden, Cain and Able, plagues, and sacrifice are incredibly audacious. You have to see it to believe it despite the extreme discomfort many will no doubt feel.

Regular cinematographer Matthew Libatique frames most of the film in closeup shots, many following Lawrence, as an intimate portrait of maddening isolation even when she's surrounded by throngs of people doing all sorts of crazy things. We get to know the intimate horrors of every inch of the isolated house which the film never leaves.

Mother! puts all of Aronofsky's talents and artistry to use and is an extreme encapsulation of his entire body of work. It uses the surreal and his sometimes frustrating yet dazzling style to execute a contemporary epic set in a single location from one character's point-of-view. Lawrence is game but almost left bare with the insane material she's given. It's a film that begs endless discussion but likely to infuriate most audiences.


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