In Black Swan Darren Aronofsky tackled the complex matter of lesbian bird coitus, freaking out audiences with graphic scenes involving uncomfortable neck craning and lockbeak. But his latest film mother! is much darker and addresses a far more disturbing aspect of life – social gatherings.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a married couple who live in a massive house in the middle of nowhere. Probably Cheshire. After a colossal fire caused by someone farting on the stove, Lawrence sets out to rebuild the mansion while Bardem – a famous poet stricken with writer’s block – pretends to not be wanking in the study. Blissfully isolated, the two of them live a life of tranquillity until, like some sort of nightmare, people start showing up at the house and engaging them in conversation.
It’s a terrifying, Kafkaesque situation that reminds me of the various times I’ve been forced to speak to people I don’t like. A scene in which the house becomes absolutely teeming with unwanted visitors is reminiscent of a birthday event I once attended, where I was made to play fucking cricket.
As more uninvited guests pile in, bringing with them obscenely large lasagnes and children with weak bladders, the hellish nature of it all becomes almost too much to bear. The floorboards start bleeding and a human heart clogs up the toilet. It’s just like Christmas at the in-law’s. Worst of all, there seems to be no escape for Lawrence, who brilliantly portrays a woman slowly descending into shit-smearing madness as everyone around her acts increasingly demented.
These home invaders are actually crazed fans of Bardem and his poetry. They treat him like some sort of god, like my dog treats me when I casually toss him Mini Cheddars. It could be said that this intrusion and the subsequent effect on the couple’s marriage is depicting the cost of fame; Lawrence has no privacy in her own house, not even when she’s shitting out a baby. And the manner in which she is treated by her husband and the legions of people in her kitchen is clearly a critique of female oppression. But the most horrifying, lasting impression this film leaves is the notion that there is no escaping mundane chat with placeholder faces who most likely spunk in your sink when you’re not looking. Cunts.