mother! ★★★★

One of the posters apes Rosemary's Baby, but the real Polanski being reconsidered here is Repulsion, utilizing the same sort of expressionistic nightmare to lay out what it feels like to be a woman in a patriarchal society, constantly taunted by assaults and microaggressions of various kinds (there's also some Biblical parable stuff but let me be frank and tell you I don't really give a shit about that; I'm glad it's there for people to chew on, though). Jennifer Lawrence is remodeling a house and laying herself bare for her Important Artist husband who takes her completely for granted, and absolutely fails to consider her feelings when he opens their home up to increasingly intrusive and hostile guests. Aronofsky's films have historically been visceral and more than a little silly, but he finds some sort of miraculous balance here between studio slickness and the stomach-churning discomfort of Lars von Trier or Todd Solondz; some will be turned off or perturbed enough to give up this on long before it turns the corner into absolutely over-the-top hysteria, but others will, like me, love the sensation of being toyed with by someone we cannot trust. By training his camera on Lawrence throughout and transferring her feelings of invasiveness and claustrophobia directly to us, the director makes this a thrillingly uneasy descent into absolute dread; the metaphorical content about art or religion is trite next to the storytelling accomplishments here. Finally, a film put into a wide release by a major studio that manages to make Inherent Vice seem audience-friendly.

Edit: Just because I have a feeling it will come up -- I thought Pi and Black Swan were OK with both brilliant and maddening elements, loathed Requiem for a Dream with every fiber of my being and somehow loathed it more when I gave it another shot years later, and haven't bothered with the rest.

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