The New Haven Region Announces the Cinema and Psychoanalysis Mini Meeting discussion of the film
“Mother!” by the Director Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”)
Date: November 12, 2017
Time: 2 - 4 PM
Place: The Home of Allison Brownlow,
8 High Meadow Rd. North Haven, CT 06473
(Off Dixwell Ave. between Ridge Rd. & Hartford Tpke.)
Please RSVP email@example.com (space is limited)
‘Mother!" Is a Divine Comedy, Dressed as a Psychological Thriller’
Directed by Darren Aronofsky Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller R
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in “Mother!"
Reviewed by A.O. Scott, New York Times, 9/17/17:
The couple live in a grand, oddly-shaped Victorian house in the middle of a tree-ringed meadow — less a McMansion than a perennial fixer-upper. The work of home improvement, of literal homemaking, you might say, falls to the young wife. Her husband, who has been around longer than she has, is absorbed in his work. He’s a poet, and the torment of creation distracts him from her needs, at times rendering him all but oblivious to her presence. Neither partner is given a name. They are played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. The movie is called “Mother!” The first line of dialogue is “Baby?”
The missus walks around in her nightgown, lonely and confused, especially when her hubby starts bringing home guests. “Who are these people?” she asks him. She never receives an adequate answer — they are big fans of the poet’s work, though — and for a while her bewilderment is ours as well. But we, at least, are in a position to analyze the abundantly available clues and figure out who everybody is, the poet and his lady included. Or if not quite who they are, then at least what they represent. Because though this extravagant conversation piece of a movie, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, feints toward psychological thriller territory and spends a delicious half-hour or so in the realm of domestic farce, it plants its flag defiantly on the wind-swept peak of religious (and ecological) allegory.
I don’t mean this in the vague, Superman-is-really-a-messiah-figure term paper sense of the word. At a certain point — it will vary according to your Sunday school attendance or what you remember from freshman English — you will find yourself in possession of the key to the analogical storage room where the Real Meaning resides. Up until that point, you might have thought this was a marital melodrama set in a nightmarish version of a ’50s academic marriage. When Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer show up, you might mistake “Mother!” for a savage, scrambled “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” adaptation. But then, sometime between the first violent death and the collapse of the kitchen sink, you realize that something else is going on.
Here I must confess a different kind of puzzlement. Is there such a thing as interpretive spoiler? Is it wrong to reveal a movie’s conceit, rather than elements of its story? Ordinarily, such questions would be absurd, but Mr. Aronofsky ingeniously braids his movie’s hermeneutic structure into its plot, making it hard to say what it’s about without revealing what happens. All of the suspense and most of the fun in “Mother!” — and don’t listen to anyone who natters on about how intense or disturbing it is; it’s a hoot! — has to do with the elaboration and execution of a central idea.
“Mother!” casts a wider net, gathering influences from cinema — Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick, Gaspar Noé — from literature and, most strikingly, from painting. Mr. Aronofsky and his usual cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, conduct a master class in light, shadow and Renaissance art. Ms. Lawrence glows like an Italian Madonna, while the deep lines in Mr. Bardem’s face and the sorrowful cast of his eyes suggest El Greco. The infernal chaos of the climactic sequences are pure Hieronymus Bosch, updated for the age of Kristen Wiig.