Where do you begin with a film like this? Well oddly, the film begins with the end, but that’s perhaps the least strange thing about it.
Take a look online and you’ll find as many different interpretations and hypotheses about what mother! means, as there are articles about it. So let’s leave the deconstruction to the philosophers and film studies students and take a look at mother! as a viewing experience.
The film’s main star, Jennifer Lawrence, admits that mother! is “not enjoyable while you are watching it. It’s hard to watch. It’s an assault”. And she should know, as the whole film is shot from either her point of view, over her shoulder or directly in her face, putting her on screen in every scene of the 2 hour run. “This was the hardest movie of my life,” she says.
And she’s right. mother! takes hold of you from the off and doesn’t let go, with the first-person filming putting you claustrophobically right in the middle of the madness, as the level of insanity rises and rises and rises. You will feel this film, physically, in every muscle of your body, cringing and cowering in your seat, with never a moment to relax and re-gather yourself along the way.
mother! brings a whole new meaning to brutal, making the gritty Detroit look like the Wonderful World of Disney on a wet bank holiday afternoon. It’s tough going, it’s relentless and it’s unimaginably dark. And it just doesn’t stop.
Writer director, Darren Aronofsky, says he wrote mother in a five day fever dream, writing constantly, without sleep, as the idea poured out of him – and you can see that. As the film progresses, you sense that delirious loss of touch with reality that comes with prolonged lack of sleep. That staggering between hysterical bursts of energy and delusional hallucinations that you experience as your brain tries to soldier on without rest.
mother! is challenging and demands so much more of you as a viewer than most movies, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re fed up with flimsy films, which you’ve forgotten by the time you get back to your car, then maybe, just maybe, you’re ready for this ride. So strap yourself in, take a good grip of your arm rests and brace yourself for a two hour rollercoaster through Darren Aronofsky’s fever dream.
mother! may be a mayhem of the macabre, and a merry-go-round of utter madness, but it might just be a masterpiece.