There’s a reason the title has an exclamation point – this is Darren Aronofsky’s most bonkers movie since The Fountain, in which he sent Hugh Jackman floating off into the cosmos in a bubble.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a married couple living in a big old house in the middle of nowhere (there isn’t even a driveway) which they have just restored after a fire. He’s a poet struggling with writer’s block, and she’s focused on painting walls behind which something weird and organic pulsates.
Their hermetic world is shattered by the arrival of two strangers – a dying orthopaedic surgeon (Ed Harris) and his frosty wife (Michelle Pfeiffer), who decide to stay and behave like they own the place. Bardem treats them like old friends, while Lawrence is understandably bewildered – who are these people? When an act of bloody violence brings more uninvited guests, chaos reigns, leading to a final act that must be seen to be disbelieved.
Making sense of Mother! is like trying to understand Twin Peaks – it’s best to just let this batsh-t crazy psychodrama do its thing while you pick up your jaw from the floor. It’s like one of those fever dreams where your house is full of people you don’t know and they refuse to leave. There’s neither rhyme nor reason to the absurdity that unfolds, but like David Lynch’s films, Mother! does possess its own circular nightmare logic.
Bleeding walls, festering floorboards, escalating hysteria and Lawrence’s gradual descent into madness invite comparisons to Polanski’s Repulsion and Aronofsky’s own Black Swan, but is this a surrealist horror film, haunted house movie, religious allegory, or the most pretentious project ever to emerge from a major studio? Who the hell knows.
The kind of movie you walk out of wondering what you’ve just seen, file Mother! under WTF – with an exclamation point.
In cinemas: September 14, 2017
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky