His reputation proceeds him as one of the most prolific and thought provoking filmmakers of the modern era. With films like Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan on his creative resume, Darren Aronofsky has cemented this place time and time again. Having nothing to prove, Aronofsky came out of the woodwork with his new film Mother! only to reaffirm this again. With such an impressive catalogue choosing a best is nearly impossible. Still, without doubt, Mother! has earned proper placement in such a conversation.
Dissecting this film is difficult strictly based on the nature of its unfolding. That is not to say that there is a lack of conversation to be had. For those who view Mother!, this will undoubtedly an extensively discussed film. The performances by the leading and supporting cast are masterful. Such a small, quaint setting coupled with powerful atmosphere and moving soundtrack are engrossing. Not to mention, the peculiar and inspired story is nothing short of frustratingly beautiful.
MOTHER AND HIM MEET A MAN AND WOMAN
It goes without saying that performances brought to the silver screen by the cast are phenomenal executed. With leads of Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem with support from acting greats like Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, and so many more create a seamless universe in character studies that never remind you that you are watching a film. Too often, a poor performance can distract you from the experience; let you see the edges of the screen if you will. This can also happen with too many powerful, recognizable faces. This cast fits their characters in such a flawless manor that you are pulled into the story and gripped tightly by the throat for the entire duration.
THE NIGHTEMARES OF A QUITE HOME
All of this take place in a single, isolated home in the woods. Keeping a small setting is nothing new to film. Once again, there is a thin line between artful completion and lackluster execution. Mother! keeps the focus on a single home without feeling repetitive and boring. Do not worry though, the homestead setting is a breathing, living place that grows with escalating tension to match crescendo of the story. This is matched by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that begins with blissful sweeping piano and grows into nearly overwhelming industrial tones. This falls in suit with the incredible film, building a sense of ease one would feel in the seclusion of a wonderful and peaceful home to the overwhelming, anxiety ridden final moments.
The performances, developed setting, and powerful soundtrack all feed into the incredible story reeling before you. In the shortest form, Mother! tells of a couple living in this peaceful setting. One night, a few unexpected guests arrive and generally overstay their welcome. Avoiding spoilers, because this is far too amazing to spoil for anyone, moments grow into something truly fascinating. And no, it is nothing of a basic home invasion movie. The first forty-five minutes of the Mother! are rather slow, and the idea of the slow build in modern movies is a little overplayed. But the payoff is more than worth it. The final half of the movie is an absolute wonder of modern cinema.
THE BEST MEANING NEVER TOLD
Aronofsky in no stranger to controversial, conversation spiraling films that are engrossing, enveloping, but rather straightforward. Requiem for a Dream is clearly about the harsh life of drug addiction. Black Swan is glaringly a tale about the stresses of pursuing perfection and the harm that comes along with this. Mother! is simply a story about, well, that is of great debate. The central theme of Mother! is hidden somewhere in layers upon layers of social commentary.
Starting out, the film feels like it is about the sacrifices that one makes for a loved one in an unbalanced relationship similar to the traditional 1950s housewives. This grows into something more abusive and demanding than that. Building upon this, the movie feels to become exploratory of celebrity in the form of giving away one’s self and loved one to notes on the faults of modern communism and eventually gearing towards deep religious critique. Mother! builds and builds upon itself to create something truly amazing with more layers then can be peeled back and studied in one viewing. All of this may be true; or none of it. As He says in the movie, “the words mean something different to everyone.” Yes, even the characters’ names, or lack thereof, are simplistic and powerful.
Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to creating powerful films that are both entertaining and meaningful. His films have become noted as some of the best created time and time again. Having created such a high bar, it seemed unlikely that such steam could last. This was tremendously disproven by Mother! The film is not only performed near perfection in a small, capable setting with a telling, powerful soundtrack. This movie tells something meaningful and necessary in today’s social and political climate. Now, what exactly the film is trying to say is up for debate, but it is important nonetheless. That seems like a counterintuitive statement, but it is the sort of thing that can only be understood after viewing. This poetic commentary on the current world in Mother! in palpable and unmistakable. There is always need for new life in this world.