by: Anthony Zangrillo
Heralded by some as “the worst movie of the century,” Darren Aronofsky’s latest film is a polarizing shock to the end of the summer movie season. Headlined by major stars, the film’s hidden artistic allegories obfuscate the surface level story in intriguing fashion. While droves of audiences will likely leave this experiment mid-way, an interesting risk in cinema awaits brave movie-goers that remain.
Jennifer Lawrence dominates every scene in Mother! The film completely encapsulates her nuanced responses. At times, Lawrence’s character embodies an extreme introvert. Aronofsky is able to fully immerse audiences in this sensation by utilizing creative sound distortions and wild camera movements. The film also showcases a superb supporting cast comprised of Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Even though this film is marketed as a horror affair, Mother! resembles a psychological thriller that at times manages to prey more on its viewers than its protagonist. Mother! is the most uncomfortable thriller I have ever watched. I felt totally immersed in the protagonist’s crippling anxiety and utter helplessness. As the movie’s deeper meaning is revealed, the story’s lesson had a deeper impact than more straightforward cautionary tales.
However, the prolonged metaphor is completely rushed and sloppily executed. Aronofsky revels in secrecy, yet this allegory is crucial to appreciating the film. While I believe this film works on a simple, mysterious home invasion level, I will be the first to admit the symbolism takes the movie to a higher level. Yet this meaning somewhat ruins the basic story. In some way, these two narrative threads can’t coexist but are forced together in the film. On reflection, some of the metaphors appear to resemble mere references that don’t meld well together. To complicate matters, the film’s ending (which may have been added in post) undoubtedly confirms the presence of fantastical elements, dispelling any notion of ambiguity.
Regardless of your reaction to the film’s narrative, Aronofsky has truly pushed his own cinematic talents in making the film. Throughout the movie, only three camera shots are utilized, over the shoulder, on Lawrence’s face, and her point of view. Moreover, there is no score. These choices may unsettle the majority of audiences but these risks showcase the expertise required in this endeavor.