“Mother!”

I don’t have to read the 194 poetic pages of Tarja Laine’s “Bodies In Pain” to feel  auteur director Darren Aronofsky’s pain and suffering. See ” Mother!” And you will experience being put through the ringer multiple times. Viewing this well-paced film is part Fellini hell and part romantic-horror farce. Throw in the allegories of the creation myth, Cain and Able, and various biblical devotional rites and your mind is spinning in symbol, and your psyche is torn between horror and laughter. Look at the entire emotional spin as a writer, self-absorbed and caught up in the flame of fame. He knows he has taken for granted his wife-muse. Is this film auto-biographical?! The intensity would leave one to believe so. But this tale gives us more than the easy creator/user trope.

Mother is our focus. Jennifer Lawrence is the young, devoted wife deeply into nesting. She hand tints and spackles walls, mounts marble sinks, and “breathes life back” into every lovely room of an amazing Victorian farmhouse. The farmhouse itself is toured as Lawrence searches for her bed-absent husband. The mid-hued color pallet and the  use of almost radiant light kept me interested. Her perky nipples and nubile silhouette were captured to keep others engaged.

Lawrence is on-screen for almost the entire movie. Her first spoken word is a question, ” Baby” ? Abandonment is a big theme for her. She wants to be alone with her artist husband. She can’t seem to understand that she is not enough. My favorite line of Lawrence’s is ” You never loved me. You just loved how much I loved you!” This girl suffers, is brutally pummeled by her husband’s fans, has her work destroyed, and in the most terrifying scene  loses her infant son as fan fodder to the faithful. Yikes! The Christian symbolism is much askew.

Director Darren Aronofsky is forty-eight and has an impressive list of films to his credit.  Both “The Black Swan” (2010)  and ” The Wrestler” ( 2008 ) I loved.  ” Mother!”  I give a mixed review. The setting has all the possibilities of beauty amid its creaks and acid-like bloody walls. Our heroine is devoted, possessive, and scared of losing her dream. She often quaffs an amber liquid from the medicine closet that has her unreliably seeing embryonic pulsing walls. Her husband ( Javier Bardem ) is distant, pre-occupied, self-deprecating at first. He is a poet who is having trouble writing.

His sanctuary is guarded by Mother. Here, in the room at the top of the stairs, he keeps a glowing piece of fused glass. Diamond-like and cherished, it is all that is left of a fire in which our poet lost everything. It is only at the film’s end that we understand the heart of this story. The Phoenix rising from ashes is meshed with Good Friday rites and ashed foreheads. We get to figure that out.

Sounds and irritating tuning fork pings keep the story vibrating. Strange, duplicitous guests arrive. There is tension between husband and wife over priorities. Our guests are Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, and they present more doubts about mother-muse’s status in the house. Simple smoking, drinking, and laundry scenes fuel viewer angst. There is a creepy plugged toilet, hot skillet burns, and more seeping red stains. Jennifer Lawrence is adept at tossing lace panties and unwanted cigarette lighters behind furniture. If she can’t rid herself of the intruders, she will at least remove their symbolic addictions behind appliances and furniture.

Next, we have our intruding guests’ two sons crashing in the front door. Murder and mayhem gets wilder and wilder. No character has a name. The hordes of adoring fans keep coming, and the publisher kills off a room of soldier-clad invaders.

Over the shoulder shots and close-ups that dominated the early scenes now break open showing in an all-out-war within the house. Exploded light bulbs, toads, and secret passageways, and dialing 911 doesn’t pan out. The birth scene, and the poet’s ” they have come to see me”  all gel into a swarm of holy card pictures of our poet being pinned donkey-like to the walls. Chants and crawling over bodies mingle with quiet. “They bought us gifts” our poet beams. Adoration by the masses is his desire.  He even sits in the king’s chair.  Our poor mother-muse is pummeled while our poet says, ” we must find a way to forgive.” He rips her heart out, only to do it again~ literally. The lyrics, ” it’s the end of the world if you don’t love me anymore” brings us over the top. “Why does my heart go on beating” is camp through and thorough. The credits including ink pen scratchings are creative ,too.

Farce, horror, domestic drama,and allegory  are all combined. It is an imaginative first! The Greeks ( Jennifer Lawrence wears a toga- styled Grecian gown) say that seeing pain in art makes our own lives seem better. Well, I don’t know about that!

“The Face Of Love”

“The Face of Love” is a great Friday night film with a nod to Alfred Hitchcock and a wink to the only child.I prefer obsessive love noir films like Truffaut’s “Adelle H”. And this B class psychological thriller mixes grief and doppelganger allure in scary and humorous ways. My mind kept jumping ahead guessing and adjusting for all the possible endings. As a just- functioning widow, Annette Bening shows a fear I have never seen on her usual  pixie face . It rather shook me. The games the mind can play. Ed Harris is equally as good playing the sappy new lover and then the outraged lost -husband double. The late Robin Williams plays an unusual role as neighbor and anamoured confidente. He is self-aware, vulnerable and intense just like we have come to expect and miss.The cast is superb and as believable as your imagination will let you believe given the definable disorders and denials of reality in play.

The tension is tight as we wait to see this tale unwind. Subjects of grief and loss go way beyond Kubler-Ross. Real love as muse or mate really isn’t fundamental to this film. It is what the mind can conjure.

I would not have chosen the L.A. and sunny Mexican locales as setting, but then again, “Rebecca” has already been made and the water imagery is still put to good use. See this for yourself and let me read your comments.