mother! ★★★

Far more enjoyable on second viewing, in large part because, the interpretive work being done, one can more easily put aside Aronofsky's intended Meaning and simply revel in the deranged atmosphere and behavioral detail, so it works less as a vehicle for a thematic payload, than as a virtuosic escalation of a stress environment, an unhinged theatre of cruelty. Giddily anticipated the full-blown plunge into chaos in the second half, and there's actually more modulation within that section than I'd initially given the film credit for. Scene with Bardem and Lawrence facing off for the baby still impresses, partly for the structural quietude it offers, but also because it allows the marital dynamic to take over; but the scene afterwards is so forceful that it throws off the balance and bends the human detail and abstracted contempt back to the metaphorical "reading." Too many lulls and extraneous, red-herring detail to ultimately embrace. But at its best, it's a film to simply gape at in astonishment, tense all over. Still not sure what the yellow powder is supposed to be, and I'd forgotten that Lawrence actually puts it in the paint before we ever see her put it in a glass of water. But there I go again, worrying about Meaning.

Lawrence liked this review