dir-scr Darren Aronofsky
prd Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel
with Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kristen Wiig, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, Jovan Adepo, Stefan Simchowitz, Robert Higden, Amanda Warren
release US/UK 15.Sep.17
17/US Paramount 1h55
Home is where the heart is: Lawrence

bardem harris spfeifferw
venice film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Mother! Darren Aronofsky uses the tropes of a haunted house thriller to explore the act of creation, both artistically and domestically. Yes, this is a freak-out parable about both directing a movie and establishing a family. since everything is so overpoweringly symbolic, the story and characters get somewhat lost in the chaos. It's bold and unsettling, but never remotely resonant. And it leaves us wondering why we so willingly put ourselves through this kind of agony.

After a fire, a poet (Bardem) and his much younger wife (Lawrence) lovingly rebuild the house to its former glory. But when the poet invites a stranger (Harris) to stay, she feels like he's an intruder. And things get even worse when the stranger's wife (Pfeiffer) and two sons (Brian and Domhnall Gleason) arrive, bringing some family mayhem in their wake. Escaping that crisis, the wife finds herself pregnant, and the happy anticipation is what finally breaks her husband's writer's block. But his new poem inspires fans to visit the house, threatening their idyll.

The film is shot in a permanent murk, with added sounds in the walls and stubborn bloodstains on the floorboards. Every moment is seen through the wife's perspective, and the house is an almost literal extension of her, intimately connected to her moods. So when crowds of boisterously insensitive people overrun her kitchen, the horror is seriously intense. And yet to the viewer the women herself feels out of reach, never quite resonating as more than an avatar for Aronofsky's creativity.

Lawrence throws herself into the role with fierce physicality and immense emotional energy. We see her stress even if we don't quite feel it. And her relationship with Bardem's somewhat aloof artist is complex and engaging. He brings terrific layers to the poet, making him both likeable and infuriating. Side roles are more fragmented, but Harris and Pfeiffer are both marvellously annoying houseguests, and Wiig is superbly frantic as the husband's agent.

The film's most obvious parallel is that making a movie is like building a house or giving birth to a child: putting it out there to be damaged by everyone who comes along. But it also plays as a condensed version of the Bible or a history of the world with a final act ascending rather exhaustingly into apocalyptic fury. It's loud and chaotic, a fiendishly skilful assault on the senses. No, you've never seen anything quite like it. And it'll leave you shaken in ways you can't imagine.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 5.Sep.17 vff

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Mother! Mother! Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall