Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Brian Gleeson
Writer & director: Darren Aronofsky
121 minutes (18) 2017
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Paramount 4K Ultra HD
Review by Steven Hampton
A seemingly reclusive but not forgotten poet (Javier Bardem) lives in rural isolation with his devoted wife in a quiet house that’s inexplicably besieged when outsiders arrive. The old man (Ed Harris) is an unexpected guest, and head of a dysfunctional family who are socially intrusive and increasingly impolite visitors, seeing how far they can go and what they can get away with.
Their disruptive actions now prompt the gifted but dormant poet to rediscover his muse, but nothing occurring here is only what it appears to be, and the broken, episodic story-line illustrates what happens when obvious bad omens are ignored. Intentionally transcending its home invasion themes of domestic terrorism, this bizarrely concocted mystery movie eventually becomes a shocker of sacrificial rituals.
No matter what they say, hell is other people. Especially when they break things of value.
Far more than simply a daring auteur’s psychological thriller, Darren Aronofsky’s picture is a sustained allegory of biblical fables, ranging from Edenic idyll to violent Apocalypse, stopping at all of the mid-stations of bleak comedy that undermine its so studied artistic pretensions. Both willfully savage, yet ultimately wise, Mother! (aka: mother!) delivers a broadside of surrealist horror about a full-blown cult of personality, the politics of sharing and the burden of social engagement and, arguably, the multiple meanings of human life and gross death, and true creativity.
Clearly inspired by the European surrealism of Fellini, Bunuel, and Godard, re-mixed with the impact of David Lynch, and hints of Jodorowsky, this movie examines the boundaries of acceptable artistry in a climactic narrative to such an extent it becomes an effortlessly astonishing, cumulatively outrageous, sometimes repulsive, and often baffling nightmare. However, Mother! is an undeniably fascinating opus, whether its jumbled up or frequently nonsensical metaphors always work as well for every individual viewer, or even for every re-viewing, or not.
An excellent 4K ultra HD transfer here reproduces vividly life-like colours via HDR video, to ensure a far more than satisfactory image quality throughout, and Mother! is a quite stunning triumph of archly theatrical acting and stupendously cinematic imagery.