By Andrew Cripe, Movie Critic
“mother!” is the movie equivalent of a panic attack. Depending on how willing you are to dive into this dark, twisted experience, Darren Aronofsky’s film can mean both nothing and everything to you. It asks no easy questions and there are no clear answers. What is clear, though, is that Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is unforgettable.
A disclaimer for anyone thinking about going to see “mother!”; this is the year’s most divisive film. Many critics and viewers see it as a disgusting, hateful, incomprehensible mess. Viewers should be warned that this has received the rare CinemaScore rating of F.
“mother!” takes place in a secluded house in the countryside. The inhabitants are a nameless couple played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. He is a poet and she is trying to fix the house so they can start a family. But soon strange visitors begin ingratiating themselves into the couple’s life.
Lawrence’s character is unsettled by these sudden arrivals, and is even more confused when her partner does nothing about it. Gradually the tension ramps up as the situation becomes more distressing and the film goes in unpredictable, shocking directions.
It is hard to not feel sympathy for Lawrence’s character as all her attempts to live peacefully with the man she loves are interfered with. Lawrence’s performance shows the viewer an innocent, pure soul trapped in an increasingly frightening, disturbing situation.
This is Lawrence’s best performance to date. She is so intense that it’s impossible to not get caught up in her ordeal. Bardem is also compelling as her partner, a man who is struggling to find the inspiration that will help him finish his poem.
The visuals are both scary and beautiful. The cinematography by Matthew Libatique is disorienting. The production and art design make the simple setting feel alive and expressive. The way this film looks is meant to evoke feelings of pressure and anxiety, and it succeeds enormously.
This is a psychological horror movie that recalls films like Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) and Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist” (2009). It intends to make the viewer think rather than simply scare them.
“mother!” is a thunderclap of intense emotions, disturbing moments and thought-provoking ideas. This is not a movie that will make you feel good, but it won’t leave you bored, either. It gives the viewer a ton to think about after the credits roll, and whether or not the viewer will choose to dissect this film is entirely up to them.
For filmgoers interested in taking a challenging, intense trip into a twisted fantasy of love and devotion, it must be seen to be believed.