Incredibly powerful yet extremely divisive, Darren Aronofsky’s newest film Mother! explores a nightmarish hellscape that captures a distinctly dreamlike feeling of fear and paranoia as Jennifer Lawrence’s titular mother is slowly tormented by her insecurities and undying love for her husband.
On the surface, Mother! un-nerves by creating an extremely claustrophobic and tense atmosphere, leaving you on edge for the entire runtime as small oddities explode into chaos and madness. Aronofsky creates a slow burn yet when things get ugly it is still very much shocking. The horrors that take place create one of the most terrifying viewing experiences of all time; intensely intrusive and appalling, the unobstructed violence of some images make it clear why so many people have been put off by the film. Aronofsky takes the relationship between Lawrence and Javier Bardem’s ‘Him‘ and uses it as a sounding board to explore a visually beautiful kind of horror. This comes together with the incredible sound design to drop the audience into a waking nightmare; somehow balancing perfectly realism with a surreal narrative and tone. It is certainly not a pleasant viewing experience and not one I wish to repeat anytime soon but it is undoubtedly a film that demands to be seen. Both Lawrence and Bardem give a brilliant performance, their love feels real yet we can always see the insecurities bubbling just under the surface; Lawrence’s timid cries for help and Bardem’s volcanic rage. Amongst all the madness, their relationship manages to ground the film and keep you invested even when it becomes obvious their tumultuous love is symbolic of something bigger.
Mother! clearly doesn’t follow the laws of nature, utilizing dream logic and experimental ideas it is very much a film to be analyzed and interpreted; another reason why it may be so divisive amongst mainstream audiences – this film is not easy. It is obvious that Aronofsky is continuing to play with biblical and spiritual themes that he is becoming more known for after films like The Fountain and Noah but with Mother! it is less blatant; he allows the audience to scratch away at the surface, revealing layers that make you appreciate the film more.
Aronofsky has delivered another mind-bending and complex feature; revealing a unique form of psychological horror to come closer than any other film to the distinct feeling of an actual nightmare. While not the most enjoyable time you will have at the cinema, I nonetheless highly recommend you see Mother! at least once in your life.