(Dear reader, I believe it will be impossible to talk about this film without mentioning some important points of its plot. I recommend reading this review after seeing the film, so as not to spoil your experience.)

Mother! the new job of the talented Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream) reached those with literally divided opinion, between those who loved and hated them. And the reason for this reaction is extremely understandable, as it is a difficult film that can be considered very pretentious in its proposal. Particularly, I found the director's most daring work and his most complex, being one of the main releases of the year.

The plot shows a couple, who are in an isolated house in the countryside, far from any civilization. He (Javier Bardem) is a poet who is creatively blocked while she (Jennifer Lawrence) is a young woman who wants peace and is renovating her house. The lull ends when a stranger (Ed Harris) arrives at the house and the poet decides to let him have a room in the house. It doesn't take long for the subject's wife to arrive (Michelle Pfeiffer) and soon after, more people show up and the couple's life changes completely.

Mãe!
Mother! |Image: Paramount Pictures

Let's make things clear: Mother! it's not a scary horror movie as it's being sold by a completely misguided marketing campaign. Anyone who sees it expecting this will be very frustrated. He is a psychological horror that intends to annoy the viewer, instead of scaring and that he does very well. The whole atmosphere built is very uncomfortable, ranging from the sounds – a magnificent work of sound design, which creates much of the atmosphere – to the way Aronofsky films, with the camera shaking and always chasing Jennifer Lawrence, increasing the feeling of paranoia.

The situation given by the film becomes worse during the projection, where more and more people appear, using the house as if they were their own and showing blind faith in the poet's words. In this, the film manages to be very efficient, but Aronofsky's script has a much more ambitious proposal that is behind the situation created. If the viewer sees everything as allegories and metaphors with Catholic symbolism, it will be an easier film to understand its real intentions. In fact, the viewer doesn't even need to try to find symbolism, because one of the script's flaws is in leaving some important clues in an expository way. If you pay close attention, there are two important clues in the dialogues of the first and second acts that the more attentive viewer will understand what the whole plot is about. And its third act is the point of contention, which Aronofsky's proposal is evident. As much as it works to clarify the message, the act seems to deceive the viewer who was trying to create something different for the mystery being presented. And its resolution is what I believe will decide whether or not the viewer will buy the film's proposal. I liked it, but it demonstrates this narrative problem.

Crítica: Mãe! 1
Mother! |Image: Paramount Pictures

Aronofsky's direction, on the other hand, lacks subtleties when creating the symbolisms, but shows excellent control of the environment. As said, the atmosphere created is very efficient, making the film uncomfortable. And it is a film that is not concerned with creating beautiful shots, but with creating tension. If he had been more careful in the construction of the plans, the work could be very obvious, with the proposal to follow Lawrence - who is in every scene -, the experience is richer.

Another point that the director doesn't make good use of is the use of space, leaving some very obvious, such as the staircase that leads to the poet's office and the basement where there is a boiling boiler. The production design of the house is very rich, since she is practically a character in the plot, just notice how the scenarios speak - when properly shown - about the feelings of Lawrence's character, as when Pfeiffer enters the scene and the place is with the broken wall showing how much the young woman is bothered by the woman's presence. But there are few moments that there is this intelligence in the scenarios.

The same poverty can be said in Matthew Libatique's photography, which with the work of the camera shake and the grain of the image works to create the mood, but fails to use the lights intelligently to give more character to the characters. It often ends up sounding like lazy work.

Mãe!
Mother! |Image: Paramount Pictures

Now the main point of Mother! It's in the performances. Aronofsky has always proved to be an exceptional director of actors and in this production that quality continues. I'll admit that as much as Jennifer Lawrence is a very talented actress, I was starting to think it was overrated. But with great pride I say that this is one of her best roles, the actress shows that she has a great screen presence, but that when required she is very expressive, managing to convey all her sensations to the viewer. Lawrence's vocal work also draws attention for its sweet and innocent start that changes during the tense situation. It is exquisite work. The excellent Javier Bardem, on the other hand, plays the most caricatured role in the film, so sometimes his work can seem to fall over the over acting. But Bardem manages to convey a very powerful presence while on stage and creates the most ambiguous character in the plot. And all the supporting actors manage to stand out, especially Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, who manage to pass the feeling of discomfort, without falling into caricature. Pfeiffer, in particular, shows great chemistry whenever he plays opposite Lawrence.

Anyway, Mother! is one of the most powerful films of the year. It is a production that manages to take a strong feeling from the spectator, because it is impossible to feel indifferent when it reaches its end. It's another film that shows that Darren Aronofsky is one of the most interesting directors today.

See the technical sheet and full cast of Mother!

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