Tag: Jennifer Lawrence

mother!

mumDirector Darren Aronofsky is very comfortable with making sensory arresting films that divide opinion and court controversy.  With many of his films garnering critical appreciation long after release (Pi, The Fountain), some argue that the director is ahead of his time. After the divided response to his latest film, perhaps this will be the case with mother!

Jennifer Lawrence’s character is only known as “mother” (all but one character are named with lowercase initials). She lives in an idyllic country house that she and her husband, Him (uppercase “H”), played by Javier Bardem, are restoring.  It is their personal paradise, of sorts, until one day a man appears at the door and is allowed to stay. The man’s wife arrives soon after—the couple pushing the boundaries of the offered hospitality until they are caught tampering with a forbidden ornament in Him’s out-of-bounds study.  Sound familiar yet? It was to me, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. I’ve written a thesis on the director, in theory I should know his game backwards, but here the master of the allegorical parable dangled me like a puppet clueless as to why the film’s opening felt so very familiar. It was only after the two arguing sons arrived on the doorstep, that it finally struck me.  This is the Christian story; God, Adam, Eve, Kane, Abel, Jesus, they’re all there. But what of Jennifer Lawrence’s character? Mother Nature is an obvious fit, although there is a suggestion that she is also part of the holy trinity. At one point someone yells “there she is, Inspiration!”—again, an expression of Mother Nature, or as many Christians will tell you, the Holy Spirit.

The film’s final chapter is a head-scratcher. It descends into anarchic chaos and delivers a sensory onslaught that will test the most thick-skinned cinephile. As throngs of people arrive at their house, the claustrophobic camera-work clings to mother, following her everywhere, rarely leaving her porcelain face. The lack of musical score enhances Aronofsky’s brutal vision of humanities ugly side. Thankfully, Aronofsky’s intention appears to be for his audience to read mother! as an allegorical telling of humanity’s failures rather than a literal reading (which would otherwise render it a sick and sadistic torture story).

Towards the end mother pleads with Him, “Please … make them go away!”  And in light of the worlds current political and environmental climate, I can understand her anguish. The film does offer a release valve, an out, an ending that goes beyond its Biblical roots … but I won’t spoil it for you.

mother! may not be for everyone—it requires a great deal of tolerance and a willingness to embrace the unconventional. But put in the effort and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning film that is both an illuminating and damning criticism of the human race.
 

You can see my published reviews here.

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Passengers

passIn Passengers, Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) has directed a hotly anticipated summer flick, that from reports of early screenings, seem to have polarised ethical opinion on the responsibilities of its protagonist.  I couldn’t find any evidence of this in the trailer that I saw, so I was dying to find out more.

On route to a distant colony planet, the transport ship Avalon suffers a malfunction that wakes one of its five thousand hyper-sleeping passengers.  Jim (Chris Pratt) is left to wander the empty halls of the ship which still has 90 years of its journey to complete. Despite his best efforts, Jim cannot find a way to re-enter hyper-sleep and is essentially doomed to live out the remainder of his days onboard. A year later, as he understandably starts to feel lonely, Jim begins to contemplate the dubious act of waking up another passenger. Most of his deliberation plays out in conversation between himself and the ship’s android bar tender, Arthur (a very affable character superbly played by Michael Sheen). Jim sums up his situation best when he asks Arthur: What would you do if you were marooned on a desert island but had the power to wish someone with you, knowing that you will seal their fate … would you do it?  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what he decides, after all if you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know that Jennifer Lawrence turns up at some point.

Soon after, the film unfortunately takes a turn for the worse.  Rather than fully exploring the implications of a deliberately presented ethical dilemma, it opts to focus instead on another less cerebral problem — saving the ship from falling apart. Yes, the original malfunction has conveniently spread, leaving the ship in jeopardy. In reality, it provides an easy out for writer Jon Spaihts, who appeared not to know what to do with his excellent setup. Spaihts also suffered a similar problem with his previous work, Prometheus, where an interesting premise is tantalisingly dangled in front of its audience but is not fully explored.  A couple of set action pieces later and I was left scratching my head wondering why it was that I felt so deflated.

Technically the film is beautiful to look at and the production value is top-notch. As a stock standard sci-fi it’s actually not bad and worth your money, if that’s what you’re after. If you’re after anything more you’ll be lamenting the lost opportunity.

3 stars out of 5

You can see the published review here

Comments on Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is an entertaining and lighthearted drama that has little more to remark it. A lot has been made of Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. Contrast can shed some interesting light on a performance. Lawrence, who has demonstrated her acting chops in Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games, perhaps comes across a little flat here … but maybe it is because I am comparing this with her previous roles. Bradly Cooper, however, benefits from the opposite and surprised me with a role that is interesting and multidimensional. Not his usual fare. With a few directorial gaffs (shame on you David O. Russell) Silver Linings Playbook is by no means a stella film and will no doubt fade into the collective conscious of the also rans. However, it still is a solid film that deserves a watch.

See my rating here.

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook