I’d put Darren Aronofsky alongside Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese as one of the finest American filmmakers working today. His latest, however, is more like a David Lynch film: something challenging to decode that’ll be hugely rewarding to some and simply frustrating to others.
Obsession plays a central role, as it does in all Aronofsky films, and overtly religious and political imagery feature throughout. But what this movie is all about will be dependent on the viewer – it could be motherhood (of course), the story of creation, the destructiveness of the male ego, celebrity culture, man vs nature, the place of women on the human stage, living with an artist, isolationism or any number of other things. mother! can also be read on its surface level alone as a disturbing tale about a woman going nuts in a potentially haunted house. Doing so will be disappointing, though, despite how incredible the spectacle is.
It’s a difficult film to review, partly as the less you know going in, the more you’re likely to get from it. But believe the hype: mother! goes to some truly crazy places. The third act features an assault on the senses that surpasses that which was built to at the climax of Requiem for a Dream. It’s taboo-busting and intensely horrific in a way that flirts with the obscene more than any film with A-list actors has in recent memory.
For those who can overcome the shocking scenes and enjoy finding meaning in the absurdity, this is one of the most interesting films in years. It’s extraordinarily acted, filmed and edited and while I wish there was a just a touch more clarity to it, it’s the sort of wildly original beast I wish we had in cinemas more often.