mother! (2017)

Although it’s staggeringly pretentious, it’s hard to deny the power of Darren Aronofsky’s pandemonious carnival of emotional horrors. While Jennifer Lawrence has no chemistry with onscreen husband Javier Bardem, her performance is interesting nevertheless: She effectively channels the audience’s confusion as the movie’s events unfold, and her offscreen “every woman” persona is effectively exploited here. The story itself is deeply allegorical and symbolic so the movie is surely not for everyone, and mainstream audiences are sure to find themselves increasingly frustrated by the elusive nature of the movie’s plot, but those interested in layered storytelling will find plenty to sink their teeth in. I’m not sure if I understood it correctly, but my interpretation is that of a biblical allegory with an environmental message, and I’d be interested in re-watching it to see if my perspective adds up. There are several difficult scenes to watch along the way, and the more the climax goes on, the more it becomes uncomfortable and heavy-handed, but it’s engrossing nevertheless. Ultimately the movie is a tense, challenging two hours, so it’s not hard to see why the movie failed with audiences, but it’s certainly worth a second look to extricate its core message even if the narrative is often subsumed by its portentous and off-putting pretentions.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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