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Hell is Other People

mother! is Aronofsky's masterpiece



f I didn't need to come home and write this review, I would have walked out of "mother!" and purchased another ticket for it instantly. Hell, for the next few weeks I want to buy a ticket to "mother!" before sneaking into whatever else I have to review. I won't because that's not cool, but this movie is the goods and doesn't deserve to flop at the box office.

This is the new film from Darren Aronofsky, the auteur behind "Pi," "Requiem for a Dream," "Black Swan," the critically maligned "Noah" and the criminally under-seen "The Fountain." His films mostly feel like slowly building panic attacks which then explode and leave a dark stain on your soul. This one is no different, except, instead of an exhausting bit of terror, Aronofsky has created a grandiose masterwork that luxuriates in post-Giallo excess. Most of you will hate "mother!" deeply. I think it's perfect.

All of the characters are unnamed, so Jennifer Lawrence is simply known as Mother and Javier Bardem is Him. Mother and Him live in a giant, secluded, newly renovated house that Mother has painstakingly been rebuilding. Him is a poet who's found great success in the past, but is struggling with writer's block as the couple's tranquil days bleed into one another.

Ed Harris is Man, who comes to the house mistakenly, believing it's a bed and breakfast. Days pass with no sign of the man leaving until his wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), shows up and makes herself at home with Him and the ever put-upon Mother. Things eventually go from bad, to holy crap, to "Is this movie even really happening right now," and to tell any more of the unpredictable (yet completely inevitable) story would be a crime.


his is one of those movies that's probably going to bomb at the box office and get savaged by critics and audiences alike, but will grow in esteem over the years, like "Blade Runner" or "Fight Club." There's so much going on sub-textually, thematically and even blatantly on the surface that everyone will have a completely different reading. I've already seen reviews that think the film is deeply misogynistic and sexist, while others think it's the most fearlessly feminist film in years.

The film is deeply spiritual and hauntingly atheistic, brimming with hope while choking on a miasmatic mixture of despair and cynicism. It's also quietly subtle and it becomes ridiculously operatic and reveling in the Grand Guignol—all in the same scene. It might seem to be a schizophrenic and tonally disruptive way to make a movie, but it feels like part of the artist's intention instead of shoddy filmmaking technique.

Lawrence hasn't been this good since "Winter's Bone," as she completely lives behind her eyes, letting her sumptuously expressive face carry what many lesser actors would do with over-the-top theatrics. Bardem is chilling, charismatic and perfect, giving Lawrence plenty of space to expertly carry the film into places I have never seen another movie tread.

You might hate this movie, but it will definitely make you feel something... even if that thing is revulsion and anger. So many people complain about Hollywood only making sequels, prequels and remakes, and never making anything truly original. Well, here it is. When it flops, we'll have years of "Transformers" movies to look forward to. Everybody loses.


Dir. Darren Aronofsky

Grade: A+

Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX

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