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TIFF 2017: ‘mother!’ Is an all-out Assault on Your Senses And Your Patience

Aronofsky’s fans are in for a treat and everyone else is in for a chore.

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mother!

As soon as mother! began I felt the movie taking me down a dark path; I wasn’t wrong. Sadly, this was the only way in which the film didn’t disappoint. Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a film unlike any other we’re likely to see this year. It’s IMDb page lists it as a drama, a horror, and a mystery, but these categories only identify mother! in the loosest sense. Aronofsky crafted a movie that defies genre labels, and attacks on a visceral level.

Darren Aronofsky

‘Darren Aronofsky’ – Photo by George Pimentel

mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence as the eponymous Mother. She wakes up alone in bed expecting to turn over and see her lover, Him (Javier Bardem, and that’s not a typo — his name is Him), a successful writer who needs time to recharge his creative juices. Together the couple escaped city life, and are holed up in an isolated rural home. As soon as Mother leaves her bed, the film gets wild, shifting in tone from thriller to horror movie before morphing into something else entirely. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer show up, but who they are and why they’re there matters less than the narrative vertigo they inflict.

mother! dives down a dream logic rabbit hole and creates a reality where anything can happen. Part After Hours, Part Rosemary’s Baby, and part anything by Lynch, mother! gets as loud and frenetic as Dunkirk. That’s right. Dunkirk!

Jennifer Lawrence Photo by George Pimentel

Photo by George Pimentel

It’s a small miracle that a major studio backed a film this unconventional. Aronofsky cast a Hollywood A-lister into a studio picture with art-house sensibilities, but I still tuned out about halfway through the movie. mother!’s plot and themes are so vague and opaque that it’s possible to derive countless profound meanings, and I was too burnt out to try. Whether or not moviegoers enjoy mother!, the movie will fuel countless debates. Aronofsky’s fans are in for a treat, and everyone else is in for a chore.

Victor Stiff

Victor Stiff is a Toronto-based pop culture writer and film critic who enjoys covering the city's biggest (and nerdiest) events. Victor has covered TIFF, Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark, Toronto ComiCon, and Fan Expo Canada for publications all over the internet. You can find his latest posts on Twitter and Instagram.

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