mother! review: Family affair makes for baffling film
The lower-case lettering and exclamation point of Darren Aronofsky's twisted psychological thriller reflect the Oscar-nominated writer-director's nightmarish vision: intriguing, pretentious, confusing and ultimately pointless.
Aronofsky's two hours of escalating mayhem could be many things: a densely layered biblical allegory replete with plagues, a Messiah and cannibalistic communion; a coruscating study of the egotistical male psyche; a hallucinogenic portrait of the impact of the creative process on artist and muse; a home invasion thriller; a homage to author Ira Levin's works including Rosemary's Baby.
mother! could be many things: coherent is not one of them.
If there is method in the filmmaker's madness, it is frustratingly elusive, concealed behind layer upon layer of directorial brio, atmospheric sound design and an emotionally wrought lead performance from Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence.
A young woman (Lawrence) settles into the country home she shares with her husband (Javier Bardem), an acclaimed poet struck down with crippling writer's block. Their house has been lovingly rebuilt after a devastating fire and the young wife has taken on the responsibility of interior designing the property by hand.
The lovebirds are situated far from their closest neighbours and seem content to languish in their day-to-day existence.
One night, an enigmatic stranger (Ed Harris) arrives unannounced, mistakenly believing the couple's home to be a guesthouse. The next day, the visitor's waspish wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) materialises and violence percolates beneath the surface, exacerbated by the arrival of the surgeon's feuding sons (Domhnall and Brian Gleeson).
The young woman of the house grows increasingly unnerved by the presence of outsiders in her carefully ordered world and she slowly relinquishes her slender grasp on reality.