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Horror? Review – mother!

Written by Josh Brewer, September 16th, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer


Title: mother!

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Release Date: 9/16/17
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kristen Wiig

Cliff’s Notes

A woman tries to rejuvenate her creative genius husband – god dammit Aronofsky – while people start moving into her house? Maybe? Some shit happens.

Lecture

So, after my last trip to the cinema ended so well, I trucked back this week to check out the latest offering from Darren Aronofsky, the director of a slew of awesome flicks, Black Swan, The Fighter, PiRequiem for a Dream. And what I got was… I’m gonna be honest, I’m going to need to watch this flick again. Although, that sounds way too positive, because it implies that I’d want to watch mother! again, which I don’t. The only purpose of seeing it again would be to decipher some of what occurred, not because I enjoyed the flick the first time. This puppy is either genius or a masturbatory piece of shit. I’m not sure which. Actually, it may be both.

I’ve been trying to think about which films mother! reminds me of – the trailer would have you believe that this is Aronofsky taking on Rosemary’s Baby, the trailer is also a liar – and the two that I have to think of are a touch different. In a good way, it reminds me of Coherence, with its metaphorical approach to existence being the driving force of the flick. The other film? The Room by Tommy Wiseau. How does that happen? Probably because The Room‘s approach to narrative structure seems to be the driving force of the plot line for mother!. And while The Room struggles because no one had any idea what they were doing, mother! is plagued because – and I think this is an understatement – Aronofsky doesn’t care. There’s not really an identifiable narrative story here, especially once hour two kicks in. Instead, it seems to be an hour of an absurdist home invasion followed by an hour of Aronofsky jerking off to how smart he is while chanting his own name.

More Lecture because I’m Furious

I’ve seen a lot of reviewers suggest that those people who don’t like this film just don’t get it. That as members of the populace, they lack the ability to critically review the film, thus contributing to its poor reception – mother! rocks a F grade on Cinemascore-. This is both self-serving and immediately alienating. Fact of the matter is, with the wide release and marketing in place, that audience was being sold a traditional film. If I walk into McDonald’s and order a burger, I want a burger. Not a live sheep. In that way, mother! is a complete failure. It’s easily the most aggressive major studio release in the last three decades. It also may be the worst.

If instead mother! was intended as an art film, it only fairs slightly better. The entirety of mother!‘s run time- which I thought was two hours, but it really seemed to be like four- seems devoted to a tertiary subplot in the art house Coherence, a film that lacks traditional narrative structure and drips with the ideas mother! wants to thrive in. Coherence is also approximately a trillion times more watchable. And compared to the rest of the art house world, mother! is way out of its depth. Stalker, Tarkovsky’s Soviet masterpiece, walks all over this masturbatory piece of crap, managing to discuss all of the religious elements mother! tries to desperately deconstruct, all while being watchable. Which, to remind you, mother! is not.

Either way, there are better flicks to see that won’t piss you off nearly as much.

Acting

Let’s be honest, Lawrence may be the strongest young actor working in film today, and mother! does nothing to limit this. She plays against type, providing a wonderfully vulnerable performance. As her opposite, Bardem walks a wonderful line between a number of extremes. Harris, Pfeiffer, and Wiig all rock their roles. But this is Lawrence’s show and she’s here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And she’s all out of bubblegum.

Directing

Aronofsky manages a slew of interesting moments and perfectly crafted shots, though his over reliance on the close up took me out of the flick occasionally. And I have to give him props for putting out someone so uniquely its own thing that the flick reach to places that others don’t even dare look at. It’s also a bore, poorly paced and lacking any kind of logical narrative. The first half functions well, but the third seems to tread all over itself to watch Aronofsky try to understand things.

Script

Um… I’m sure there was one. But, without reading it, I have no idea how it functions.

Effects

Gore! We get gore everyone! And it rocks! Not going to ruin the goodies here, but you won’t be disappointed when it comes to the red stuff. You’ll probably just be disappointed at everything else.

Highlights

Jennifer Lawrence.

Lowlights

Darren Aronofsky.

Final Thoughts  

I thought Rings would piss me off the most this year, but mother! was like, “Hold my beer.” Sure, the film is technically very solid, but mother! tries to exist as both an art film and a megaplex seat filler. Alas, it doesn’t work as either. It may be genius, and a second or third viewing might help me see that. But I’m not giving it a second viewing, because the first one sucked.

Grade: F (Or an A… but probably a F) 

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