One of the most anticipated movies of the year, caused by the Darren Aronofsky brand (Black Swan; Requiem for a Dream) and the maddening trailer, mother! is set to be a marmite film. Unashamedly indulgent and impenetrable in plot, cross-genre scope and religious symbolism, this taut and gripping mind-bender is either one to admire, or to just give up on.
The story centres around Jennifer Lawrence’s unnamed character, always claustrophobically followed by the camera, poring over her lush, rich skin and full-hipped, fertile body — she and her much older, also unnamed husband (Javier Bardem), a generation apart, are still childless, living alone in a vast, remote house.
First, only one surprise visitor comes (Ed Harris). Then comes his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer). Then come their children. Then come all the rest. The promise of a child breaks writer’s block, and turns Javier Bardem’s character into the greatest poet of all time, with terrifying consequences.
Christian symbolism — creation, sin, son, sacrifice, worship, crosses, global domination — is rife, and it is possible to read the film as a straightforward allegory. But this doesn’t do justice to the taut, domestic drama, nor the plethora of mysterious, macabre interactions with the guests, which escalate beyond belief. mother! won’t give you any answers, but the questions sure do make for a hell of a ride.