MOTHER! (MA15+)

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - FLICKS -

ACHIEV­ING A STATE OF MA­TER­NAL DAM­NA­TION DI­REC­TOR: DAR­REN ARONOF­SKY (BLACK SWAN) STAR­RING: JEN­NIFER LAWRENCE, JAVIER BAR­DEM, ED HAR­RIS, MICHELLE PFEIF­FER, DOMH­NALL GLEE­SON, BRIAN GLEE­SON

Every so of­ten, a truly provoca­tive movie comes along, dar­ing you to ei­ther love it un­con­di­tion­ally, or loathe it un­con­trol­lably.

The ag­gres­sively ab­stract, self-in­dul­gent and unashamedly pre­ten­tious psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller that is mother! is one such movie. Most will end up loathing it. Par­tic­u­larly those se­duced by the su­perb ad­vance mar­ket­ing of mother!, which in­tensely mag­ne­tises viewer cu­rios­ity in a flash.

The ex­pe­ri­ence de­liv­ered by the movie barely re­sem­bles the ex­pe­ri­ence sug­gested.

There ain’t no story in the con­ven­tional sense of the word here. Yet for a gen­uinely in­trigu­ing first half-hour, this does not prove to be too much of a draw­back.

Jen­nifer Lawrence plays a name­less char­ac­ter (though the clos­ing cred­its later iden­tify her as “mother”) ren­o­vat­ing an old house that has sur­vived a re­cent fire.

This beau­ti­ful, driven woman in her twen­ties shares the dwelling with her older hus­band (Javier Bar­dem), a fa­mous poet fight­ing a crip­pling case of writer’s block.

De­spite liv­ing at such close quar­ters – in what seems to be a se­cre­tive wood­lands lo­ca­tion – there is def­i­nitely some kind of fixed emo­tional dis­tance be­tween these two.

Mea­sur­ing its ex­act length is a tan­ta­lis­ing prospect for the viewer, but ul­ti­mately, a fruit­less task. The wife craves pri­vacy so she can paint walls and pick out fur­ni­ture. How­ever, her hus­band’s fans keep drop­ping by un­in­vited.

How did wackos like a wheez­ing sleaze (Ed Har­ris) and his antsy mis­sus (Michelle Pfeif­fer) even find the house in the first place? Why are their adult sons (Domh­nall and Brian Glee­son) hav­ing a full-on punch-up in the din­ing room?

Who tipped off the pa­parazzi and TV re­porters milling around out­side? Hey, is that the army com­ing down the drive­way? And why, oh why, is ev­ery­one do­ing weird stuff that is slowly scram­bling the san­ity of their host­ess?

This stream of NQR vis­i­tors starts off as a trickle, and ends in a del­uge that threat­ens to drown the un­happy cou­ple in a deep pool of their own mar­i­tal dis­con­tent.

The ar­rival of each new guest al­lows the movie to fum­ble some more with an in­co­her­ently coded metaphor for some­thing that must be peev­ing mother! writer-di­rec­tor Dar­ren Aronof­sky.

The film­maker def­i­nitely has some is­sues he is work­ing through about the dam­ag­ing na­ture of a life lived in the pub­lic eye.

This is kind of in­ter­est­ing – for oh, about a minute or so – if you watch mother! armed with the knowl­edge that Aronof­sky and Lawrence are a cou­ple in real life.

How­ever, there is noth­ing cathar­tic about the con­fus­ing, ther­a­peu­tic process mother! is in­flict­ing upon its au­di­ence.

The man­i­cally mean­ing­less mood swings in mother! just keep on com­ing hard and far­ci­cal, while any hope of pro­cess­ing them is go­ing slowly down the drain.

The over­all ef­fect is both des­per­ately cryp­tic and pre­ciously point­less, like re­peat­edly tak­ing a wrong turn down David Lynch’s Mul­hol­land Drive in a car with four flat tyres.

JAVIER BAR­DEM AND JEN­NIFER LAWRENCE STAR IN WRITER-DI­REC­TOR DAR­REN ARONOF­SKY’S LAT­EST EF­FORT, THE CRYP­TIC AND POINT­LESS MOTHER!

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