Mother!

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - ENTERTAINMENT - Jen­nifer Lawrence in the Dar­ren Aronof­sky-di­rected film Mother!. (out of 5) Di­rec­tor: Star­ring: Run­ning time:

Dar­ren Aronof­sky Jen­nifer Lawrence, Javier Bar­dem, Ed Har­ris, Michelle Pfeif­fer 2 hours, 1 min.

one is set al­most nine months later, with Jen­nifer very preg­nant, her hus­band’s cre­ative pow­ers fully re­stored, and yet an­other group of un­wanted vis­i­tors bang­ing on the door.

The less said here the bet­ter, but all the cin­e­matic tricks Aronof­sky has used in the first half — close­ups, tightly framed hand­held shots in claus­tro­pho­bic rooms (don’t sit too near the screen), a su­per-cranked sound de­sign that in­cludes the house creak­ing and groan­ing and sigh­ing like an arthritic choir, half­com­pre­hen­si­ble echoes from other rooms, squishy liq­uids in un­ex­pected places — they’re all back in even greater force, along with vi­o­lence, sex­u­al­ity and lan­guage of the sort you’re only likely to hear again if they cast Sa­muel L. Jack­son in a re­make of Lord of the Flies.

It’s an al­most painful ex­pe­ri­ence, with Jen­nifer front and cen­tre as the au­di­ence sur­ro­gate in this night­mare sce­nario, her face a twisted gri­mace of fear and re­vul­sion that seemed over­done un­til I felt my jaw and re­al­ized I was do­ing pretty much the same thing my­self.

This is the di­rec­tor’s most pow­er­ful movie to date — it makes Noah look like a Sun­day-school pic­nic — but it’s a raw power, not con­tained by any­thing re­sem­bling re­al­is­tic, flesh-and-blood char­ac­ters. The emo­tion is there, as is the sym­bol­ism, but it’s not in the ser­vice of some­thing greater. And dis­ap­point­ingly, once you crack the movie’s metaphor­i­cal code, it ceases to sur­prise, if not to shock.

Per­haps co­in­ci­den­tally, this is the di­rec­tor’s first fea­ture in which he is also the sole writer. The re­sult is a movie in love with it­self. I’m glad I caught up with Mother!, if only to join in the in­evitable de­bate about its wor­thi­ness — but un­like Aronof­sky’s The Wrestler and es­pe­cially Black Swan, I have no de­sire to see it again. ck­night@post­media.com

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