by Ian Morton

Make no mistake, Mother! will without a doubt be one of the harder films you’ll watch this year but as long as you’re prepared to reflect and fight for its meaning, it will most certainly be one of the best.

In the middle of renovating their new home, the lives of a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her older partner (Javier Bardem) are thrown into disrepair after some unexpected visitors come knocking at the door. As the husband greets their new guests with open arms, the young woman is forced to confront the darker side of their new companions.

Whether you love him or hate him, Darren Aronofsky has arguably been at the forefront of artistic and creative storytelling for most of the 21st Century. Experiencing critical success from most of his back catalogue, Aronofsky has carved a name for himself by experimenting with story and technique, that either forces you to ponder over its metaphors or throw a chair out the window in frustration. Utilizing all his might and magic with the camera, Mother! undoubtedly showcases the best of the filmmaker’s talents while simultaneously producing one his most polarising films yet.

Taking several steps back, Mother! goes back to the director’s routes, telling a story that reflects deeper themes than its edgy, art-house facade would have you believe. Taking a largely philosophical look at religion, the wider universe and humanity as a whole, the story holds up a black mirror against its larger themes, ultimately forcing the audience to interpret events in their own way. At first, the experience is bleak, brutal and bewildering but once it clicks into place it’s utterly brilliant!

Pairing once more with cinematographer Matthew Libatique, a series of intense and claustrophobic visual mechanics glue the audience to the characters in the same style as Black Swan. Although completely relentless, the technique is remarkably effective at immersing the audience whilst simultaneously beating you round the head with an empathy stick. It’s clear from the start that every shot has been meticulously thought about and is all there for a reason.

From the opening scenes, both Lawrence and Bardem prove their worthiness to be cast in such intense roles. Lawrence exudes a pained innocence as the character is slowly stripped down, whilst Bardem flourishes as her writer’s-block stricken husband. Separate, the performers craft their characters beautifully but together is when things really come alive. Surrounded further by a plethora of supporting talent, the effect of this culmination adds a darkly dynamic twist that conflicts with audience expectation.

Overall, Mother! is a film that will strike strong opinion on both sides of the scale. Strong visuals and impressive storytelling make for one of the most enthralling films of the year, however it all depends whether you truly connect with its themes. To have this piece simply wash over you would almost be the best way to watch it, with its meaning coming  through retrospective analysis rather than spoon fed narrative. 5 out of 5 stars.

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