MOTHER! Review — Unapologetic, Unleashed and Unrestrained

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Mother! Review — A creator’s nightmare vision

by Staci Layne Wilson @staciwilson

mother! reviewThey say necessity is the mother of invention. Well, writer-director Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! certainly is inventive when compared to the plethora of action, superhero and emoji movies out these days.

Metaphors abound in Mother!. Creation, gestation, life, work, inspiration, joy, decline, death – it’s all wrapped up in eerie enigma, embodied by the eponymous Mother (Jennifer Lawrence). Mother keeps the home fires burning as her poet husband, (Javier Bardem), is ensconced in his sanctum, crushed by lack of inspiration. To break his blockage he invites strangers into their home, which is being renovated by Mother herself.

The strangers are strange, indeed: Ed Harris plays a physician who cannot heal himself, while his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer, is hedonistic, headstrong and consummately intrusive. They quickly take over, barging all over the home Mother holds so dear. Other characters, fans of the poet, join in the fray and wreck havoc.

Mother is obliged to look on as her unwanted guests destroy everything she’s built, nurtured, and loved. Worse, her husband disregards his wife’s agony. All he cares about is the adulation of these greedy groupies.

There are some moments of traditional horror (foreboding basement, blood-soaked floorboards) but the true terror comes from the psychological aspects of this sad and tragic, yet ultimately hopeful, story. It’s about the cycle of life and creativity.

Mother! is well-written but better-directed, while cinematographer Matthew Libatique (who has shot most of Aronofsky’s films) is a force of nature, somehow keeping the tornado of events, themes, and beings in flawless composition.

In a tale that is so obsessed with allegory, it’s important the actors are up to the titanic task – and they sure are. Everyone’s a star, but this is Lawrence’s showcase. She embodies everything a mother should, from tenderness to ferocity with equal aplomb,and yet, she portrays the character with less backbone than I would like to see.

If you know the films of Bergman (Hour of the Wolf), Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby), Buñuel (The Exterminating Angel), Visconti (Conversation Piece), Fellini (Juliet of the Spirits) and Von Trier (Antichrist), you will get more out of Mother!. Those who do not know the history of fevered surrealist arthouse cinema will think they are seeing something fresh and new (which is fine… as long as it’s seen).

In spite of these comparisons in my Mother! review, which are really just cinematic Cliff’s Notes, no one but Aronofsky could have made Mother!. Mother! is divisive–some will leave the theater shaking their heads, others nodding. It’s that kind of film – a creator’s vision that’s unapologetic, unleashed and unrestrained – and thank goodness for it.

Rated R

121 Minutes

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MOTHER! Review — Unapologetic, Unleashed and Unrestrained

by Staci Layne Wilson

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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on

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