“Mother” Gradually Peels Away Layers Before Brilliantly Descending Into Darkness

In Mother, director Aronofsky and his collaborators have created an eerily effective thriller which thrives on misdirection and perverts point of view.

Mother - Top 10 Films reviewThis cinematic equivalent of the Penrose steps incorporates allegory, imagery and symbolism wrapped up in a structural Rubik cube. Part social commentary, political manifesto and visually arresting cinematic thesis, Aronofsky challenges you at every turn. Intelligently using sound, silence, framing and deceiving set design Mother revels in ambiguity and tonal manipulation. Unnerving, deceptively riveting but adept at performing cinematic sleight of hand, this feels more like a theatrical piece than arthouse exercise.

Veering between idyllic isolation and full scale domestic riot it remains consistently cohesive despite the shifting narrative, primarily because of an eclectic cast. Grounded by a masterful performance from Jennifer Lawrence opposite Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Domhnall Gleeson this film intentionally wrong foots you throughout. Numerous themes and subtexts are examined through deed rather than dialogue, while the house itself lives, breathes and influences outcomes.

There are those who will watch Mother and write it off as a self-indulgent piece of cinematic theatre for an artist with axes to grind. However to marginalise a filmmaker for expressing his ideas without appreciating the finished product is short sighted. What Aronofsky and his collaborators have created is an eerily effective thriller which thrives on misdirection and perverts point of view. That this cast is able to maintain an equilibrium, react and convey character whilst pyrotechnics are destabilising the scene makes Mother even more impressive.

Mother - Top 10 Films review

Many have compared it to Rosemary’s Baby in set up but Mother goes way beyond that Roman Polanski classic in another direction. Jennifer Lawrence overwhelms the pervading tension throughout with a steely vulnerability, which is almost ethereal in its depiction of creative innocence. Mother charts in cinematic terms the process of producing ideas through various mediums, then dissects that emotional aftermath on screen. Cyclical, essential and potentially lethal in its ability to influence, inflame or inspire, Aronofsky opens himself up to criticism either way.

Paragraphs could be wasted dissecting the technique and storytelling nuance on display, but that would be wasting words to no end. This film has been created with the express intention of promoting debate, tempering conversation and questioning belief systems. Distinctly idiosyncratic in approach and disarmingly normal at first glance, Mother gradually peels away layers before descending deeper into darkness. Moments of savagery butt up against idyllically isolated imagery. Murderous actions go hand in hand with awkward carnal couplings, whilst ardent acolytes gather adding another layer to the mix.

For those willing to fully commit, Mother is likely to be memorable whether you appreciate Darren Aronofsky or not. This will remain a challenging film with great performances irrespective of individual opinion, all Aronofsky asks is that you choose a side.

mother, five stars, film review, Top 10 Films

Written by Martin Carr

Mother - Top 10 Films reviewDirected by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Released: 2017 / Genre: Thriller
Country: USA / IMDB

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Mother was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 22.

About the Author
Film blogger. Writer. Novelist. Singer. Living the dream. Isle of Wight based. Chipping away at the rockface. Leaving a mark...well trying anyway... See More at: http://martincarr.jimdo.com/

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    Callum Reply

    I might have to watch it again as I just didn’t like it. Maybe I didn’t get it. You’ve intrigued me though, I feel like I missed a lot of the subtext.

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    Reggie Reply

    Fantastic film. So many subtle layers and rewards second, third, thirteenth viewing.

  3. Avatar
    Martin carr Reply

    Hi Callum,

    Watch it again and thank you for reading – Martin

  4. Avatar
    Martin carr Reply

    Hi Reggie,

    Thanks for reading – Martin

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    Lyndon Wells Reply

    Very well written review – good read but this film doesn’t work for me.
    After this and Noah I feel Aronofsky should leave biblical stories and references alone. His best work is still the Wrestler and Black Swan for me.
    He is an exceptional film maker that enjoys pushing boundaries, Mother works as a horror film but the message within the film is hardly subtle.
    I think some imagery and a certain act in the fiinale don’t ever need to be part of any film. I could not recommend this film to anyone, I actively hated this film by the end.
    I will admit the performances especially Lawrence are very good. Often the best films are those that completely divide opinion people love or hate this film, no-one is sitting in the fence with this one.

    • Avatar
      Martin carr Reply

      Hi Lyndon,
      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the piece at least – Martin

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    CineGirl Reply

    Aronofsky is a visionary but I think he’s lost his way with this and Noah. dare I say he’s become lost in his own hype. There are things I like about Mother – the photography, the performances, its ability to get under your skin – but there are things I don’t like too. It doesn’t hold together cohesively for me and I felt I needed to do background reading in order to understand what was going on. Good review though Martin, you make some marvellous points. It’s a shame I don’t have the patience to revisit the film.

    • Avatar
      Martin carr Reply

      Hi Cinegirl,

      Glad you liked the review if not the film

      – Martin

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    Keith Reply

    Really nice write-up. Just finishing up a review as well and I found myself surprised by this thing.

  8. Avatar
    Martin Carr Reply

    Hi Keith,

    Thank you for reading – Martin

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