mother! ★★★★★

A number of people who walk out of mother! will declare it a masterpiece, but don't ask them why and expect a satisfactory answer. Everything about the film is confounding, right down to its ungrammatical title. If you are, like me, one of these strange creatures, I suspect that your feelings about it are as difficult to penetrate as the film itself.

Aronofsky has created a work so unpleasant and shamelessly disinterested in how it is perceived that most audiences are going to feel shortchanged, even angry, that the film was ever screened at their local multiplex. Paramount has misleading marketed the film as a conventional thriller when it is anything but. It is destined to become a favourite amongst alternative types, kids tripping on acid and a pinup film for the counterculture movement.

For all of its religious symbolism, political ideology and dream-logic, mother! is not a film that insists on being understood, only experienced. There are many ideas in it, but none of them are grounded within a coherent narrative framework. They float about in some abstract philosophical space. Aronofsky's camera becomes the maniacal eye of a nightmare that swerves jaggedly towards a comedically grotesque denouement. It refuses to assert itself as a horror, thriller, dark fantasy or black comedy, though a case could be made that it falls into any one of these genres. At times it even refuses to amuse, entertain or satisfy - it purposefully frustrates and harasses the viewer, reaching for something beyond the elemental pleasures of the art form. It engages at knife-point. This is an attack, and Aronofsky throws the first and last punch.

More than anything else, the film captures the anxiety of intrusion. It evokes this very particular form of anxiety and sustains it for an excruciatingly protracted length of time. It's a film not about the anti-social personality but for the anti-social personality. Not only does Aronofsky reject social intercourse as a pandemic sickness, he also warns against spousal generosity - as if finding absolute fulfilment in your relationship is a form of self-annihilation. In mother! the world becomes a carnival of cruelty and the human experience a gaping, open wound. Echoes of these ideas pervade all of his films, but never before has his blade been so sharp or so focused on the juggular. If anyone asks, mother! is quite simply about a door that won't stay closed. If Lawrence could somehow keep that door closed, keep the world out, seal Bardem and herself in a glass casing, then everything would be okay...

Yes, I liked the film. Loved it. It's more than a movie. But please don't ask me why. It's too private.