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Mother! May I?

Darren Aronofsky can be somewhat of a polarizing filmmaker. The director behind Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan and Noah is incredibly ambitious and truly loves to make ART films that require much interpretation on the audience's part. Often because of this, critics, for the most, part enjoy his films while audiences find them pretentious and tedious. In mother! Aronofsky teams with Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem to create a very allegorical and bizarre tale that will likely only appeal to the most patient of viewers. It's a frustrating film if you're expecting it to conform to a genre, but a very fascinating one if you're open to its experience and attempting to dissect it afterward. Mother! is all about Jennifer Lawrence's unnamed character, a woman who lives in complete solitude with her much older writer husband (Javier Bardem). She's content to live out her days restoring his home which was once burnt to ashes. However, her peaceful life is soon turned upside down with the arrival of a stranger (Ed Harris) and later his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer), who are desperate for a place to stay. More and more her sanctuary and privacy are threatened, along with her sanity.

Mother! is quite honestly, a nightmare put to film....and not necessarily in the way a typical horror movie is. This movie exploits a far different type of horror, and that's the horror of your hospitality being taken advantage of, and your privacy being encroached upon beyond belief. It's filled to the brim with feelings of claustrophobia, hopelessness and being completely and utterly trapped. It made me so completely uncomfortable in a way that not many films have the power to do. Honestly, I was legitimately stressed out. The filmmaking is all very deliberate. Right from the beginning the style here is clear. The camera stays so close to Jennifer Lawrence's face and follows her wherever she goes. There might be more close-ups here than there were in Les Miserables, adding to the claustrophobia. As for the performances here, everyone involved truly turns in some incredible work. This might honestly be Jennifer Lawrence's career-best performance, and Javier Bardem is as solid as ever...just in a more subtle way than he usually is. But it's Michelle Pfeiffer who steals the show with every scene she's in, you can hardly take your eyes off her because you have no idea what she'll say or do next. Really though there wasn't a false note in the cast, even with a surprise cameo near the end of an actress who doesn't seem to fit the genre.

Mother! was a completely effective experience, but it certainly won't be a satisfying one for all....especially for people waiting for a big reveal or expecting it to conform to typical horror movie standards. It's in the final third of the film where things go a little crazy that might turn off some audiences. This is because it becomes far less relatable and moves into full allegory territory of something so crazy it would never happen....just like the turns all nightmares and dreams can take. I certainly have my own interpretation of the film, but after reading some others' takes it's clear that this is a film that can take on many meanings to many different people. And that's honestly the best about mother! RATING: 9/10

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