(US - 2017)
Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig, Stephen McHattie, Emily Hampshire, Laurence Leboeuf. (R, 121 mins)
To say MOTHER! isn't for everyone is the understatement of the year. The latest film from director Darren Aronofsky (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, THE WRESTLER, BLACK SWAN), MOTHER! might be his crowning achievement thus far. A nightmare that makes the last half-hour of REQUIEM FOR A DREAM look restrained, MOTHER! is so intricately constructed that there's too much to unpack and analyze on just one viewing. Certainly it's a film that's going to provoke debate and discussion, but most importantly, polarizing reaction. The phrase "love it or hate it" gets thrown about a bit too freely sometimes, but that's precisely the response MOTHER! is going to get. Much has been made of the horrific events in the film and they're there, but mileage may vary: genre fans who have some background in extreme horror and/or transgressive art cinema won't be as shocked as casual moviegoers who are fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and think they're going to see the latest Jennifer Lawrence vehicle. MOTHER! is intense, grueling, incredibly uncomfortable, and frequently off-the-charts cringe-worthy. But it's also brilliantly acted, richly textured with metaphorical interpretations and symbolism, and one of the best and most audacious films of 2017. In an era of franchises, branding, and endless reboots and remakes, major studios and A-list stars just don't make risky and provocative movies like this anymore. And they've never made one like MOTHER!
stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers' A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. Then things just go off the rails and get really bizarre.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS, but you're no longer the weirdest wide-release movie of 2017). Exhausting, exhilarating, challenging, thought-provoking, beyond audacious, and fearless about going into some extremely dark places, MOTHER! is a masterpiece. Regardless of your response to it, there's no denying that there's never been anything like it.