The Big Issue : Edition 546
THEBIGISSUE22SEP–5OCT2017 37 MOTHER! BROADLY PITCHED AS a psychological thriller, Mother! hits all the marks necessitated by such a genre – paranoia, anxiety, claustrophobia and tension – but writer-director Darren Aronofsky manages to bloat these sensations to seismic proportions. Similar to Aronofsky’s other unrelenting crescendos in Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Black Swan (2010), the film systematically moves into scenes that would be more at home in The Hurt Locker (2008) or Saving Private Ryan (1998) than a domestic thriller. Hard to imagine? Maybe, but this is something of a war film in parts. For the majority of Mother!, Aronofsky’s camera is uncomfortably locked on Jennifer Lawrence’s face, or chasing behind and whirling around her, in a nauseating cyclonic spin. Like a contemporary Rapunzel – replete with long plaited locks – she remains fortressed in her home fighting a losing battle against invasion. Her position is one of desperate reaction rather than action, totally powerless except in one aspect: her ability to (pro)create. “Mother” (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her angst-ridden poet husband, “Him” (Javier Bardem), in his rural family property, which she is meticulously refurbishing after it was razed by fire. The house is picture-perfect country chic with its neutral tones, AGA cooker and rustic furniture. It is as beautiful – and as vanilla – as its young mistress. Everything is suspended in a fragile stasis of calm until a “Man” (Ed Harris) and then a “Woman” (Michelle Pfeiffer) knock on their door, and her husband lets them in. Who are these people? Why is her husband so insistent on inviting them into his home? Why does he not listen to – or protect – his wife? From the film’s opening moments, the answers come through hints of hyper-reality that only increase in frequency, making this a work of metaphor, symbolism and personal interpretation rather than straightforward storytelling. It’s all in there – religion, environmental themes, feminism and Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), which feels like the closest cinematic parallel to Aronofsky’s exploration of ego and the extent to which it can infect the soul. Whatever you may spy in Mother!, it is best not to overthink it. This is an experience that can bind the mind in knots and potentially sever friendships in post-screening dissections – it is that divisive. Just hold onto your lunch and, remember, it’s only a movie. by Emma Westwood (@EmmaJWestwood) » Mother! is out now. Select Covering the standouts in film, music, books and home entertainment PICTURE-PERFECT PICTURE: MOTHER!