MOVIE REVIEW: Love it or hate it, you won't forget Mother!

JENNIFER Lawrence and Javier Bardem have to work hard not to be upstaged by the haunted house in Darren Aronofsky's operatic nightmare.

Haemorrhaging floorboards, organ-sucking toilet bowls, pulsating walls... the elegant but isolated abode has more tricks up its sleeve than your average co-star. And it flogs them shamelessly.

Being old pros, its human counterparts don't try to compete.

Instead, the Oscar-winning duo complement the haunted house's potentially melodramatic excess by playing their characters fairly straight.

It's a smart move and one that keeps the audience guessing - long after the apocalyptic end.

This might be the appropriate place for an important disclaimer: Mother! is not a film for moviegoers who like their loose ends neatly tied up.

Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from the movie Mother!.
Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from the movie Mother!. Niko Tavernise

Aronofsky has put his money on the entrails-sifting nerds and film buffs who devote countless column inches to what it all means.

I remain to be convinced that this would be time wisely spent. But whether you like the film or loathe it, you can be damn sure you won't have seen anything like it.

The titular character (Lawrence) devotes most of her energy to keeping her domestic environment running smoothly - which in the circumstances is no easy task.

The capable but increasingly uneasy beauty is quite literally a homemaker.

While he, or rather Him (Javier Bardem), grapples with a debilitating case of writer's block, she tiptoes around his fragile ego, cooking meals, cleaning up.

Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from the movie Mother!.
Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from the movie Mother!. Niko Tavernise

Her main project, apart from Him, is the loving restoration of their shared home - she's rebuilding his former life from the ashes, pretty much brick by brick, after it was razed in a fire.

The delicate equilibrium of their lives is upset by the arrival of a stranger (Ed Harris), who turns out to be one of the author's fans.

His wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives the next morning, followed by their two sons (Domhnall and Brian Gleeson), one of whom is killed almost immediately in an act of jealous fratricide.

And at this point, Aronofsky is just warming up.

After the funeral, Mother succeeds in temporarily clearing her home of the acolytes, most of whom barely acknowledge her presence, and finally becomes pregnant.

The happy event leads to a brief period of respite.

The haunted house steals the show in Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!
The haunted house steals the show in Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! Contributed

But Bardem's character appears to be suffering from some kind of messiah complex - the author as ultimate creator perhaps.

He can't survive without adulation. And hers is no longer enough.

Impending fatherhood, or perhaps the physical evidence of his own virility, unblocks his creative powers.

When his next novel is published, he welcomes the admiring hordes into his home - and all hell breaks loose.

In a market dominated by safe, formula filmmaking, it's thrilling to go on an unsignposted journey with a director who has this much talent.

Much of the ride is rich and engrossing, but somewhere along the way (and I'm guessing it's before the baby is sacrificed), Aronofsky takes a wrong turn.

The final destination feels more like a dead end.

Mother! opens in cinemas tomorrow.


Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhall Gleeson.

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Rating: TBA

Verdict: 3.5 stars

Topics:  javier bardem jennifer lawrence mother! movie review movies

News Corp Australia

Burglar wakes Summit couple

COUPLE woken in early hours when they saw a man leave their bedroom.

Car destroyed after it was left on roadside engulfed in fire

CAR FIRE: Firefighters from Sawtell were called to a burning Ford Falcon left on the side of Hulberts Rd, Sawtell on Sunday, February 18, 2018.

WATCH: Firefighters tackle car blaze late last night

Rubbish truck's load catches alight

A J.R. Richards and Sons rubbish truck container caught alight on the Pacific Highway.

Fire in skip bin causes traffic hold ups

Local Partners

Humiliating aftermath of affair

AS THE the damage is assessed following Dean and Davina’s affair on MAFS, the most humiliating detail is finally uncovered.

Heartbreaking way Shannon Noll lost Idol fortune

Shannon Noll in I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!

NOLL spent post-Idol money, but not in typical rock star fashion.

Holtznagel: ‘I had to ID Charlotte Dawson’s body’

Simone Holtznagel broke down as she spoke out about one of her “best friends” and Australia’s Next Top Model mentor Charlotte Dawson.

Simone Holtznagel speaks out about Charlotte Dawson

Elsa Pataky turns snake wrangler

Elsa Pataky isn’t afraid of snakes. Picture: Supplied

Chris Hemsworth’s wife wrangles snake inside Byron Bay home.

Jilted MAFS spouses break silence

MAFS contestants Tracey and Dean break their silence.

Tracey and Ryan break silence after affair is exposed.

Coffs sisters battle it out on My Kitchen Rules

Sisters Georgie, 25, and Alicia, 30 from Coffs Harbour will compete in tonight's episode of My Kitchen Rules

Local sisters bring 'modern take' on Asian cuisine to national TV.

Kate Middleton’s BAFTAs dress slammed

Stars don black in again to show solidarity with the #MeToo and Time's up campaigns...