2017-11-10 06:58

What it's about:

A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. A riveting psychological thriller about love, devotion and sacrifice.

What we thought:

The release of mother! in South African cinemas come months after its debut in the States. Director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) had both critics and audiences split over whether it was Oscar-worthy or in fact a cinematic flop. 

Because of this I went into the screening with no expectations. I wanted to take it as it comes and allow myself not to be influenced by the opinions of others, but rather make up my own mind. 

Simply put, I believe the film to be a masterpiece - a thrilling cinematic experience that warped my mind and left me both confused and content at the same time. 

If you go into mother! searching for a chronological story that follows a clear narrative, then you’ve already made your first mistake. Not that I’m saying the film doesn’t have a set path. It’s rather the way in which it’s all put together that could frighten some whilst delighting others. 

Aronofsky created a film that bends over to the poetic side whilst its foundation is still firmly set in reality. He then sways between the two, almost as effortlessly as the linen curtains hanging by the large wooden windows of the mysterious house that takes centre stage in the story. 

There is something pulsating within the walls of this house and within the film’s protagonist, Jennifer Lawrence (Mother) that leaves you uneasy. At times it’s a subtle fluttering and at others a painful hammering. This heartbeat pumps throughout the film and ties together all its characters and the unfolding storyline. 

Everything starts out at a steady pace, but when Javier Bardem’s character (Him), a well-known poet, lets two strangers, Man (Ed Harris) and Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), into the house it all starts to unravel. 

The poet’s invitation to the couple sprouts from his need to please others but also taps into his egoistic side when he finds out the man is a fan of his published works. Despite having everything he could possibly want, the poet is blinded by his need to be appreciated by others. This later proves to be a big mistake as everything around him comes crumbling down. 

Is Aronofsky perhaps asking why, in the age of the internet, do we allow so many unknown elements into our personal, safe space? Is he questioning why we metaphorically open our doors to hatred, violence and abuse through a device that we protect like a rare jewel? Does he want to know why we would put ourselves and loved ones in danger for a brief brush with stardom?

The film unapologetically explores themes related to topics like nature, religion and patriarchy. It requires critical thinking and commitment from the viewer to see more than just what’s unfolding on the screen.

Right in the heart of it all sits Lawrence’s maternal, soft-spoken Mother. Her doll-like exterior hints at a fragile interior which is ultimately exposed by the chaos that erupts around her. Her nurturing side and blind-love for the poet leaves her at the mercy of others. If the poet loves her with just a fraction of the same intensity, why would he invite these dangers into their house? 

The film is a sinister, thought-provoking triumph that should leave you shaken, uncomfortable, unsure and uneasy. 

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