Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan saw Natalie Portman’s character struggle to maintain her identity and sanity in her own manic pursuit of perfection. Similar concepts rear their head in mother! too; only it examines control being taken rather than being lost, creating something much more harrowing.
Charismatic duo Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem offer up powerhouse performances as a distant couple whose relationship becomes more strained when a series of odd individuals show up on their doorstep. He – an esteemed poet – thinks the experience will inspire him out of his writer’s block. She despairs at the intrusion in the house she so lovingly restored following an awful fire.
Rude guests, a broken ornament and a blood-stained floor are just the beginning too. As the poet starts to find his voice again, their once-peaceful paradise becomes the setting of a violent, frenzied nightmare that reaches disturbing heights; chaos amplified by shaky camera shots and eerie absence of score.
Having been written and directed by Aronofsky, it seems fair to assume it’s personal. Having real-life girlfriend Lawrence star and her on-screen other-half played by a man his exact age (as he did with The Fountain), reiterates that idea. But while that depicted men who would go to the ends of the earth for their loves, mother! is more about the lengths one man would go to achieve greatness, no matter what the cost to his significant other. (Those after strong female characters won’t find them in this tale of oppression and devotion).
However, mother! could just as easily be about the need to be worshipped, the effects of fame on relationships or society as it tackles misogyny, police brutality and even refugees. Is it a reflective apology from Aronofsky even? In truth, mother! can be about whatever you want it to, making it one of those rare films that you can appreciate without actually having to enjoy any second… Regardless of whether you like it, it’s sure to haunt you long after you’ve seen it.