Jennifer Lawrence Goes Completely Mad in Darren Aronofsky’s Psychological Mind-Bender ‘Mother!’
Not much is known about “Mother!” – and the film is best viewed that way. The Jennifer Lawrence, Darren Aronofsky joint has been shrouded in secrecy since it began production last year. But as viewers will soon see, there is no explaining for the madness that unfolds over the course of the neatly engaging two-hour runtime.
In the film, Lawrence plays the titular young wife to Javier Bardem’s broody celebrity-poet. Notably, the final credits bill them simply as “Mother” and “Him.” Together they inhabit the very house in which Eli’s first family died. Virtually destroyed by fire, the structure is in great need of a home renovation. This gives Lawrence a purpose as she takes great pride in making the house a home once again – making painstakingly meticulous decisions about paint.
The setting is cinematic horror gold. Ostensibly ripped out of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic 20th-century painting, “Christina’s World,” the exquisite and rustic mansion sits isolated in the middle of a grassy field – void of any outside noise, or even people… but not for long.
Writer and director, Darren Aronofsky doesn’t hold back – as “Mother!” provides striking imagery that makes the film feel like the ultimate trip into madness. For all intensive purposes, this is a major studio experimental art film, infused with a European aesthetic. Using imagery and jarring camera direction to make the viewer rub their eyes and question the very visuals of which they are witnessing. It is a mind-bending and puzzling feat that will leave the viewer uncomfortable in all the right ways. Contextually wrapped within the confines of a psychological horror film, the movie appears heavily influenced by themes of isolation and derangement as seen in Kubrick’s “The Shining” and Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby.”
The eerily peaceful abode slowly shatters when a Man (Ed Harris) knocks at the door. Enthused by the simple presence of new people, Bardem seems all too trusting of his company. The unannounced appearance grows strikingly odd as the visitor gets all too comfortable. Shortly after that, his blazing wife (played wonderfully by Michelle Pfeiffer) joins them. The Man and Woman’s mysterious presence deeper invokes violence, more visitors, and complete insanity.
For Academy Award-winning Lawrence, the film is her first genre offering since 2012’s rather lackluster “House at the End of the Street.” With a strong cast of supporting characters, the film is still very much centered on her paranoid journey throughout this obscenely trippy house of horrors. Her descent into madness is outwardly evoked by her attachment to a dreamy golden elixir, which she sips to relieve her sudden spurts of pain. Here, Lawrence appears to be mere vessel of sorts, for which insane events keep happening, and for Him to take out his frustration.
To call the film a completely terrifying experience would be a misdirect – with minuscule sub-text, some may call foul. Much like Aronofsky’s previous genre tout “Black Swan,” “Mother!” will surely attract a polarizing crowd. It is a rare, albeit very bizarre, treat – adamantly deserving of the very exclamation mark promptly placed within the title.
“Mother!” opens in theaters September 15.