Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer disrupt their home life. USA TODAY
Fans have been telling Darren Aronofsky that his new psychological thriller mother! is his strangest movie yet — meaning, stranger than Black Swan, The Fountain or Requiem for a Dream.
The director is, to be honest, less than convinced. “I don’t think they’re strange. To me, they make sense and feel right,” he says, pausing and then letting out a chuckle. “We’ve made a few weird ones.”
His latest (in theaters Friday) certainly doesn’t seem the most conventional: Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman who’s fixing up a country estate with her husband (Javier Bardem) when an unknown couple (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) and a bunch of other strangers show up and totally throw off their tranquil life.
Aronofsky, who snagged a best director Oscar nomination for 2010’s bizarro ballet film Black Swan — which also was nominated for best picture — explains what you need to know going into his new movie:
There are good reasons for the title ‘mother!’
Yes, it’s kind of odd that it has a lowercase “m” and an exclamation point. But both are clues to the central mystery and reveals, Aronofsky says. “When you do see the film, you will get it. It’s all explained.” The word “mother,” too, is “kind of a big giveaway,” he adds. “It’s Jen’s character, but what it means in lots of different ways is part of seeing the movie.”
Jennifer Lawrence, Domhnall Gleeson and Darren Aronofsky admit they think their latest film ‘mother!’ will split opinion, while Lawrence confesses the emotional demand of the role was the highest in her life. (Sept. 7) AP
Everything came together in one intense weekend.
His films usually have a long gestation period: It was a full decade between when Aronofsky met Natalie Portman and when they made Black Swan (which won her a best actress Oscar). But he birthed mother! over a long weekend.
“I’ve always been jealous of singer/songwriters because they could write a song in an afternoon, and it becomes the anthem of a generation,” he says. “As a filmmaker, it takes me two, three years to get an emotion out.”
It’s not a conventional horror film.
Admittedly, he’s “not your strict genre guy.” There are horror elements but like his other hard-to-categorize movies, it’s not quite that. “It’s one of those roller-coaster rides where you get to the amusement park and you see that loop-the-loop and you’re like, ‘There’s no freaking way I’m getting on that thing,’ and slowly but surely the line’s shrinking and suddenly you’re strapped in. I want people to know it’s pretty crazy.”
Get ready to go inside Jennifer Lawrence’s head.
The entire film is told from the point of view of Lawrence’s character, so there are no wide shots: Every scene is shown looking over her shoulder, focusing on her face or seeing what she sees in front of her. “It’s kind of a continuous film with no breaks,” says Aronofsky, who is in a relationship with the actress. “It’s very immediate and an extremely difficult acting challenge for Jen, but I was lucky to have her talent to carry me and take audiences on this journey.”
Prepare for divisive reaction.
The movie discomforted yet dazzled critics when it premiered at Venice Film Festival, and it will likely do so for regular moviegoers as well. Aronofsky describes an intimate screening he had prior to festival season where half the audience “felt the allegory and the other half felt it was a relationship movie. There was this whole debate and discussion. It’s the type of movie where I hope the conversation continues well into the night.”