Written by James Reilly – Student Pages Entertainment Journalist/Film Critic
Being a huge Aronofsky fan, and knowing what his films normally entail, I was both extremely excited but extremely anxious at the same time. His films, most famously Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, hit your senses harder than 99% of Western films have managed to do in recent years, his art house style and sensibilities feel almost lost on a lot of mainstream movie-goers. If there was any film to further this divide and truly isolate any mainstream audiences, then it is surely mother!.
Bare some niggling points I have with this movie, which I’ll address shortly, mother! is one of my favorite movies of the year. The first act however had me worried. While I was a huge fan of the artistic and aesthetic qualities of the film, it is Aronofsky after all, I felt a tad let down. I saw myself muttering ‘is this it?’, the trailers I saw before the film all were based around the first act so I’m sure it was their intention to make you think that this is all you’re getting – but boy was I wrong.
The film hits you at such a pace with its second act it will throw you completely off guard. A film like this made by a traditional American studio? I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen it. American studious are normally much more restrained compared to that of foreign markets in how they depict religion, sex and violence yet here we have a film that is bathed in those concepts. I guess it says a lot about the credibility that Aronofsky has that allows him to go to a major studio and get such a wild film like this made. Now with all this talk about how dangerously impactful and intense this film is, the question is asked is it any good? The only answer I can come up with is; I think so? This film is the definition of love or hate. Just glancing at some of the audience response shows that its one of the most hated movies of the year, yet it is still found favourable by critics with a very respectful 75% on RT (as of now). Often in film, as are works of art, division between viewers is a testament to the piece as it requires a great amount of audience participation in the thought department (lacking in a lot of Westernised media).
Starting with the not so great, I am still a Jennifer Lawrence fan but I feel she was dreadfully miscast in the film. Its not that she is bad, but the character is sort of lost on her. It reminds me of the Shinning and Shelley Duvall. While both fulfilled their roles adequately, the whole film I can’t suspend my believe that I am watching ‘her’ and ‘Wendy’ and not Lawrence and Duvall respectively. I feel Lawrence as a person is way too boisterous and strong as a person, and having her play this timid housewife (at the start anyway) before turning to lunacy, just didn’t work for me. It may have something to do with the fact the director and Lawrence are in a relationship? I’m not one to say anything.
That being said the rest of the casting is pretty much perfect. Javier Bardem is spectacular in the film, he captures every scene he’s in (which is pretty difficult when the last act rolls around). Everytime he appears on screen I am lost in the essences of acting he portrays with such subtly, that when the boiling point is reached it pierces through your spine like a electric shock. Normally with visual elements in a film I am more aware of the cinematography of a piece, and while its noticeably brilliant here, its the production design of the house that the film takes place in which is so damn outstandingly amazing. The house feels as alive as the actors inside it, with its commanding presence adapting and evolving as the film goes on. The film (as you might pick up) is as much about the building itself as it is about the characters inside it, and boy is this character strong.
This film is one of the most polarising films that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in the cinema. If you expect a horror movie, which I did not and was surprised people were thinking it was going to be, you will be very disappointed. If you want a film like ‘It’, you will be very disappointed. Chances are if you do not like or appreciate any of Aronofsky previous work, you guessed it, you will be very disappointed. However, if you manage your expectations and know your taste in film and you’re still excited to see it? You could be very pleasantly surprised. While this film may not be for everyone, if you end up being one of the people that can enjoy it then this could be one of your favourite movies of the year.
Follow James at @JamesisGinger