‘Mother!’ is a shocking roller-coaster ride
Opening this weekend, the new thriller (starring Jennifer Lawrence) is a brain bender.
Since making a huge splash two decades ago with “Pi,” filmmaker Darren Aronofsky has only directed seven films, including such long-gestating entries as “Requiem For a Dream” and “Black Swan.”
But now Aronofsky is back with a new movie “Mother!” which, he says, came together with a shocking speediness.
A hit on the festival circuit, the dark thriller stars Aronofsky’s offscreen girlfriend Jennifer Lawrence as a woman who is busy refurbishing a mammoth house she shares with her mucholder husband (Javier Bardem) when two strangers (Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer) come to call.
As a critic for Britain’s Telegraph wrote, “Mother!” is a mad, transfixing, rolling thunder-crash of a film…A sick joke, an urgent warning and a roar into the abyss, Mother! earns its exclamation mark three times over and more.”
For Aronofsky, it’s not the weirdness of the subject matter that is a stretch for him – nearly all of his movies pulse to a very dark beat – but rather the way the project came together in a flash of inspiration.
“It was a strange experience,” he says. “Most of my films take many, many years to come to life. “Black Swan” was 10 years, “Noah” was 20 years, and this film happened in five days.
“So, it was a strange thing. I think it came out of living on this planet and seeing what’s happening around us, and not being able to do anything about it.
“I had a lot of rage and anger and I just wanted to channel it into one emotion, into one feeling, and in five days I wrote the first version of the script. It just sort of poured out of me.
“After I wrote it, I showed it to Jennifer and she was really excited by the idea and suddenly, we were making a movie.”
In movies like “Winter’s Bone,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Silver Linings Playbook,” Lawrence has made a specialty out of playing women who, when backed into a corner, come out swinging. The actress’s unnamed character in “Mother!” is a much different kind of beast, a woman easily bewildered by all that’s going on around her.
“It was a completely different character from anything I’ve ever done before but it was also a completely different side of myself that I wasn’t in touch with and I didn’t really know yet,” says Lawrence, 27. “It was a part of me that Darren really helped me get in touch with. It was difficult. It was the most I’ve ever had to pull out of myself.”
When he was shaping “Mother!,” Aronofsky admits to being influenced by a wide range of influences including Luis Buñuel’s “The Exterminating Angel,” the children’s book “The Giving Tree” and a book of poetry by Susan Griffin called “Women in Nature.”
“[The movie[ builds on that old idea that something that happens in Beijing can affect us in New York City,” says the filmmaker.
“You can have a beautiful place like Central Park in New York and you can have Aleppo in Syria and it’s all done by human hand. Yet most of the fights we have are with our neighbor over where the fence is going to go.
“I kind of wanted to take the idea that here we all are, in this one home…Everyone can identify if someone comes over to your house and throws a piece of garbage on your floor or burns a hole in your carpet with their cigarette but they don’t understand [why it is wrong] if they throw a piece of paper out on the street.
“It was very inspired by Luis Buñuel’s “The Exterminating Angel,” which took [members of the] social structure and stuffed them all into a world and watched it as it unwound.”
Aronofsky, 48, is the first to admit that “Mother” is strong stuff and not for everyone.
“I’ve been saying that this movie is my howl to the moon,” he notes.
“I think it’s a very, very strong cocktail and of course there are going to be people who are not going to want that type of an experience, and that’s fine.
“I’ve been very clear that this is a roller coaster ride. So only come on it if you’re really prepared to do the loop de loop a few times.”
Darren Aronofsky, from left, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem attend the premiere of Paramount Pictures’ “Mother!” at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday in New York.
This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from “mother!”