TIFF Review: ‘mother!’ is Overambitious and Self-indulgent

Darren Aronofsky first won me over with his stunning drama about addiction, Requiem for Dream (2000) which was here in 2000 and left more than one viewer stumbling out of the cinema in horror. He deserved an Oscar as Best Director for that masterpiece, and in the years since has proven to be bold, confident talent, earning a nod for Best Director for Black Swan (2010).

His leading ladies are guided with his confident, gentle hand to exceptional performances, so it comes as no surprise that Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Pfeiffer do exceptional work in this thriller that will no doubt polarize audiences.

Lawrence continues to silence her critics with another intense and powerful physical performance here in mother, but the film is an incoherent mess of a story. Aronofsky, as brilliant as he is, has from time to time been self-indulgent, and he displays that again here, on a grand scale. What he has never been is pretentious, and here that dominates what he has created.

This the very definition of artistic masturbation. When someone asks me what the film is about I will tell them, but I doubt anyone is going to have the same conclusion.

Lawrence plays troubled young woman married to a famous poet portrayed by Javier Bardem, with slightly sinister undertones. They live in an old home they are fixing up, well, that she is fixing up while he struggles with writer’s block. Late one night comes a man, claiming to be a surgeon, portrayed by Ed Harris, who is invited in and disrupts their world. I’ll, he vomits something into their toilet which might be living it dead. His wife, portrayed by a sleepy, sexy Michelle Pfeiffer arrives the next day and almost at once begins bullying and intimidating Lawrence.

But why? They seem to have a connection to him, but what is it? And what is with the house, is it living?

The film feels like it might be headed into the area covered by Rosemary’s Baby (1068) but never hits the right notes to do so. Who are the people who crash into their home? Why does he permit the destruction of the home?

I should say the final scene drew a huge burst of laughter, guffaws from one member of the press, perhaps holding back the entire film became too much for him and he simply exploded. This is a film that many might love but unfortunately I didn’t. ‘mother!’ is a clear case of ambition gone horribly wrong. Other than Lawrence and Pfeiffer, film has nothing much to write home about.

Rating: 1/5

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