|Jennifer Lawrence caught in Polanski wannabe.|
Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Review By Greg Klymkiw
God knows I love Darren Aronofsky as much as anyone can love a director. One picture after another - Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and Black Swan - have all charged me with the magic tingles only true masters of movie magic have been able to achieve. Jesus, I have even been able to forgive and admire the spectacular follies that are The Fountain and Noah.
mother! is a blight upon that spectacular canon. This horror-tinged psychological thriller, attempting to be in the tradition of Roman Polanski's Repulsion, Cul-de-sac, The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby, suffers from predictability, tedium and mind-battering pretension. Yes, it's clear Aronofsky wants to plunge us into a nightmarish experience, a mind-blowing head-trip, but the only trip any of us are going to take after seeing it is the medicine cabinet to down a bottle of Extra-Strength Advil.
Migraines are not pleasant.
A housewife (Jennifer Lawrence) and her intense world-renowned-writer hubby (Javier Bardem), have just moved into a gorgeous old country house - a fixer-upper exuding a whole lot of charm and potential. One night a stranger (Ed Harris) shows up at their doorstep. He mistakenly thinks it's a bed and breakfast. He and hubby hit it off so famously that he invites the dude to stay.
The next day, a gorgeous MILF (Michelle Pfeiffer) knocks on the front door. She's the stranger's wife. Hubby ignores the protestations of Wifey and allows the couple to reside in the home. The couple gradually take over as if it's their God-given right to be there. When their bickering adult sons (Domhnall Gleason, Brian Gleeson) show up, things take an even stranger turn.
A brutal murder is committed.
The days, weeks and months (we lose track of time, as do the characters) yield more and more drop-ins of strangers and at one point the home is overrun with party animals bent on wholesale vandalism. Even full-rigged armed riot police make an appearance to exact one shocking act of violence after another.
The movie wants to be experiential and yet it's bookended with fairly standard genre tropes. During the first ten minutes, I hoped it wasn't going to go in the direction I thought it would. By the end, yes, indeed it had. I'd have forgiven this if the ride proved to be worth it. It wasn't. The whole thing just blasted my eardrums and hurt my brain.
There's mild amusement value in watching Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer reprobate their way through the first third of the movie, but having to stare at Javier Bardem being sinister and worse, having to put up with the annoyingly mousey Jennifer Lawrence for much of the film's running time negated those meagre pleasures.
Meagre is indeed the operative word here.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: * One-Star
mother! plays at TIFF 2017.