Rated: R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: September 15, 2017 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation
Boldly ambitious is this flapdoodle of a new Darren Aronofsky (Noah) film which seems to merge horror with religious symbolism. In a way that, perhaps a bit too pretentiously, comments on a current, alarming discordant global situation. Nevertheless, it's exactingly keen cinema at its finest or most off-putting, depending on your outlook.
The rich imagery of mother! starts from the opening facial flames utilizing organic and computer-generated strokes as some of its elements relate to chillers like Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, even Aronofsky's 2010 Black Swan for which Natalie Portman took home the Best Actress Oscar.
His off-screen amour (and recently politically outspoken) Jennifer Lawrence (Passengers, Oscar-winner for Silver Linings Playbook) gets the daunting task of the unnamed titular character whose neuroses will be put to the test as this yarn reaches lurid extremes in potent mind-bending fashion. The precarious woman and poet/older (as well as detached though predisposed) husband (a charmingly grinning Javier Bardem of Dead Men Tell No Tales and Skyfall) rebuild their quaint wooden abode after damage and have unexpected guests. First, in the presence of a coughing orthopedic doctor (Ed Harris of Snowpiercer and The Face of Love as well as Rules Don't Apply before landing a solid role on HBO's "Westworld"), and later his gargoyle-like hard-lemonade drinking missus (done well by Michelle Pfeiffer of The Family and Dark Shadows).
Perhaps some will be able to grasp the trajectory/destination based on the art versus life concept, but absorbing it all with no hint or forewarnings provides quite the darkening impact. Some might be able to compare the discomfiting nature of the aforementioned "Swan" by recalling characters played by Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder. But, the edgy, astute Aronofsky likes to raise the bar in ways that feels the presence of auteurs like Luis Bunuel and Lars von Trier that may have a flagellating, scarring effect, not just on the characters.
Domhnall and Brian Gleeson appear as two sons in Cain & Abel fashion, and Kristen Wiig has a heraldry presence around the large albatross felt by a marvelously subdued Lawrence captured dynamically by cinematographer Matthew Libatique in close-up and point-of-view to augment the distress. And, all this as her husband begins to get his professional mojo back. Gradually the sound work from Johan Johansson amplifies the eeriness of a hellish descent. The four main thespians are portals for a paranoia that assuredly penetrates divisively to elicit ire or oddly needed ecstasy in a deliriously outrageous mother!