By Allison McCausland
A&E and Online Editor
Films released over the fall season often tend to favor the thriller and horror genres, giving audiences something to become fearful about. Halloween is right around the corner, offering studios and filmmakers the perfect opportunity to release their wild and horrific stories. However, Darren Aronofsky’s latest work, Mother!, gives audiences a new kind of suspense and scare to leave the theater with a possible existential crisis.
The film centers around the life of the title character, simply known as Mother (Jennifer Lawrence), and her husband, referred to in the credits as Him (Javier Bardem). The two live tranquil lives in their rustic, yet money pit of a home that Mother continually works on restoring and building in order to make the perfect dwelling for the two to share. Meanwhile, Him attempts to create his next great work, continually holing himself away in his study to find the inspiration to write.
The couple’s idyllic lives are interrupted when a Man (Ed Harris) shows up out of the blue looking for shelter in their home. Although reluctant, the two decide to let the man stay after Him seems to take interest in the curious nature of the Man. Soon after, Mother begins to notice strange changes in the couple’s home, which only seem to worsen after the arrival of the Man’s wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer). As time goes on, Mother begins to witness the secrets crumbling around her in the house that she intended to only share with her husband.
Aronofsky’s film definitely has a lot of style and thought-provoking material to keep audiences interested throughout the story. The action starts out at a slow pace to ease viewers into the world that Mother is trying to create for her husband before other characters get introduced in the narrative.
Nevertheless, the direction that Aronofsky steers the story in is no thriller like those Hollywood has made previously a la “The Strangers” or “Cabin in the Woods.” He also does not make the film an extensive character study of different people occupying the same space either. Deviating from traditional tropes, Aronofsky opts instead for a story with existential proportions smothered in a symbolism sandwich. This correlates with the religious and environmental overtones that his previous film, 2014’s “Noah”, was known for during the time of its release.
The heavy use of these factors overstimulates the senses in a way that mainstream audiences may have difficulty dealing with. The film requires a lot of thought rather than having viewers lay back and wait to be frightened. If that’s what audiences are looking for, then they should go see “It.”
Lawrence, Bardem, Harris and Pfeiffer prove that they are still just as good at their craft in their roles, but fail to go beyond their requirements for stand out performances.
All in all, it is a film that makes someone think and ask philosophical, theological questions about him/herself. Mother! might just be the scary change of pace needed for a person who is tired of the average thriller. However, be warned that it is probably best that only one viewing is recommended unless viewers like being attacked with reinforced symbolism.