“Mother!” Offers Moviegoers Something Different

Writing about director Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, “mother!,” is different than talking about it.
It’s hard, and forces one to organize thoughts in a rational and coherent manner – something the psychological thriller cannot be charged with.

But Aronofsky claims he planned it that way. “I kind of want people to not be too prepared,” said the writer and director in an interview for The Telegraph. “You think it’s one type of film and then suddenly it changes. You can never quite get a handle on it and it’s constantly surprising.”

That constant surprise comes not only from the film’s content, but from its lead actress as well.

Jennifer Lawrence’s reaction shots are often all the audience is presented with before the action unfolds on screen. Lawrence is the audience’s guide, as the film consists primarily of three tight shots – over her shoulder, on her face, and what she’s looking at.

The claustrophobic shots, dim lighting and lack of score complement the film’s content to perfect a disconcerting air.

“I want [the audience] to know it’s going to be intense,” said Aronofsky, “and they should only come if they want to see, venture far enough to incorporate so much hidden meaning. The feature’s initial stages are reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby.” Javier Bardem plays the charming husband experiencing severe writer’s block, and Lawrence is the young supportive wife.

Much like in Polanski’s film, the couple’s tranquil existence is interrupted by outsiders – in this case unexpected visitors (Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris) instead of neighbors. The plotline explodes from then on.

Themes presented throughout “mother!” include the delicate balance of marital roles, the struggles of living life in the public sphere, differences in parenting, and even creationism.

The film’s ambitious span and unique presentation is impressive but might repel those with more conservative tastes.

“I’m scared of the CinemaScore,” admitted the director in a Los Angeles Times interview. “People who go in without any sense of allegory will miss it.”

But that seems to be the case with most of Aronofsky’s films. The Brooklyn native’s work is polarizing. He’s known for films like “The Fountain” and “Black Swan.” Like many of his past projects, Aronofsky’s new film requires divergent thinking and an understanding that discomfort while watching is inevitable.

“mother!” and its predecessors therefore shine brightly among cult audiences, but are not for the faint-hearted.