The mother of all metaphors
LOOKING for subtlety? Look elsewhere other than Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! (the exclamation point in the title should be a dead giveaway).
He made us squirm through Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, and this time dials the crazy up to an almost unbearable 12 and puts another young Hollywood A-lister through a cinematic nightmare.
An acclaimed middle aged poet (Javier Bardem) and his young wife (Jennifer Lawrence), known only as Him and Mother respectively, seem to have the perfect relationship in their isolated home.
But he is becoming increasingly emotionally distant, perhaps brought on by frustrations with his writer’s block.
Greater pressure is applied to the relationship with the out-of-the-blue arrival of a pair of nosey strangers (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer), who claim to be a doctor and wife but turn out to be fans. The problem is they make themselves at home and the poet is far too welcoming and accommodating, much to his young wife’s confusion and unease.
There is something off-kilter right from the get-go, with the graphic image of a burning Lawrence and an apparently magical crystal, which is only exacerbated by the ‘intrusion’.
But this is just Aronofsky warming up and you will never guess where this ends up. His story gets more bonkers as it goes along, an elaborate and ongoing metaphor for the stages leading up to and including motherhood, and the roles men and women play.
From the brief synopsis, it is indeed a leap to be discussing themes of motherhood and fandom, but to detail too much of the plot that fills in those gaps would ruin the surprise.
What Mother! does illustrate, with the extreme situations depicted, is the hell that women go through.
What begins as an eerie thriller soon catapults into bizarre territory.
But the cast holds it together; a constantly bewildered Lawrence navigates the goings on while Pfeiffer shines as the far too forward stranger.
Jennifer Lawrence stars in Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!.