written and directed by Darren Aronofsky
It’s hard to think of a contemporary director that goes for the jugular with the abandon that Darren Aronofsky brings to each film he makes, even when he misses the mark. Beginning with his delirious black-and-white indie Pi (1998) and on through the trippy Requiem for a Dream (2000) and trippier The Fountain (2006), Aronofsky makes extravagant movies that you may indeed hate, but will always remember. His latest, mother!, doesn’t just push the envelope. It grabs it and presses it against your face until you can’t breathe.
What exactly is mother! about? Simply put, it’s about ego, and in particular the vanity of the artist in relation to others. Except that Aronofsky uses biblical metaphors to hammer that point across, mashing the Judeo-Christian Testaments into a narrative in which Javier Bardem plays a poet (God) and Jennifer Lawrence his wife/muse (an amalgam of Earth and Virgin Mary). The whole thing is too unwieldy to classify, with Aronofsky throwing everything into a pot that includes ruminations on fame, gender politics, and ecology. It’s also unsubtle and pretentious, culminating in a tour de force sequence where the poet’s followers eat their baby (Jesus) and mother sets the whole world on fire. If you’re looking for something a little more daring and evocative, this mother! deserves your attention.
Click here to read Ruben Rosario’s review of mother! on my sister site Cinesthesia.
Carlos I. Cuevas