Film Review: mother!

Darren Aranofsky’s mother! is a tour deforce. Beginning with an usual set up, the film becomes stranger, and finishes with the wildest of crescendos.

A young woman is creating an idyllic home with her older husband, a writer who is struggling with writer’s block. Their peaceful existence is interrupted by a stranger who visits their remote house…

Written and directed by Darren Aranofsky, mother! is a most striking film. It is perhaps Aranofsky’s most audacious work, and a class above his last feature Noah. The film will intrigue viewers, surprise and horrify them. It is a picture that seems to be about one thing, but transforms into something rather surprising.

There are various themes at play in mother!. The central theme, however, is that of an unhealthy relationship and the extreme detriment that this can cause. As the film progresses, this strand becomes the focus. Nevertheless, there are a number of other aspects to the film. The cult of celebrity becomes increasingly relevant in the second half of the film. To an extent, mother! functions as a patent satire on the worship of celebrity, and indeed of religious fervour. These themes weave together adeptly in the second half of the film.

Aronofsky has crafted a single-location movie where said location has a pivotal role. Although they meld well together, mother! is a film of two halves. The first is unusual and increasingly unnerving. The second leads to all-out mania. The filmmaker ramps up the sense of anxiety and claustrophobia to an almost unbearable degree. Matthew Libatique’s cinematography is wonderful, and the sound design works to great effect. Jennifer Lawrence delivers a fine performance in the central role. Javier Bardem brings the disconcerting quality seen from him before, but the actor does this so well again. Michelle Pfeiffer is magnificent in a supporting role, while Ed Harris is as solid as ever.

Darren Aronofsky delivers a horror brimming with anxiety; one that turns quiet terror to outlandish fear. mother! is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and sublime.

Stuff To Look At

A plethora of movie trailers and clips on Oscar nomination day, including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Blackhat and Cake

Avengers: Age of Ultron

It all looks very, very bad in sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron. Where are jokes of Loki? From the above trailer, it looks like this Marvel instalment will have a more serious tone. Not that this is a bad thing, as last year’s superlative Captain America: The Winter Soldier can attest to. Avengers: Age of Ultron hits UK cinemas on 24th April 2015.


So Selma may have been snubbed for several awards, but at least it has received a Best Picture nod from the Academy. Starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., Selma tells the story of his struggle to secure voting rights for African Americans. The film is released in the UK on 6th February 2015.


Jennifer Aniston may have been snubbed for a Best Actress nomination at this year’s Oscars, but Cake still seems worth a look. A dark comedy, the film focuses on Aniston’s character and dubious relationship with a widower. Cake will be released in UK cinemas on 20th February 2015.


Director Michael Mann delves into the world of global cybercrime with his latest thriller Blackhat. Starring Chis Hemsworth and Viola Davis, the film concentrates on convicted hacker who is helping the government tackle a network of criminals. Blackhat hits UK screens on 20th February 2015.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Following yesterday’s world premiere of Kingsman: The Secret Service, here is a clip from the film. Following the success of Kick-Ass, screenwriter Jane Goldman and writer-director Matthew Vaughan team up again for another adaptation of a comic book. Kingsman: The Secret Service is released on 29th January 2015.

Run All Night

Here is the trailer for action thriller Run All Night. The film is about a prolific hit man played by Liam Neeson. Also starring Ed Harris and Joel Kinnamen, Run All Night is set for release in the UK on 1st May 2015.

Inherent Vice

This clip from Inherent Vice sees Joaquin Phoenix reunited with his Walk The Line co-star Reese Witherspoon. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and with a stellar cast, Inherent Vice hits UK screens on 30th January 2015.

Film Review: The Way Back

Much like the varying climates featured in the film, The Way Back is both cold and dizzying. Whilst the struggles in The Way Back evoke much empathy, it is not as easy to connect with the various characters. The journey, meanwhile, is bewildering in its scale.

Imprisoned in a Siberian gulag after his wife is forced to testify against him, Janusz is faced with twenty years in incredibly harsh conditions. Together with a group of other inmates, Janusz escapes the prison, but is faced with a 4,000 mile trek to freedom…

Peter Weir’s film excels in depicting the brutality of the group’s epic journey. The major failure of The Way Back, however, is the lack of back-story assigned to some of the characters. From the opening sequence and later dialogue, it is clear what drives Janusz to embark on such a journey. Some of the other characters do not benefit from such an insight, and appear to be included to make up the numbers more than anything else. This results in some indifference to the plight of these supporting characters in the often dangerous situations.

The Way Back, nevertheless, exhibits the endurance of man, both physically and mentally. Janusz’s recurring vision of reaching his front door illustrates what motivates him to keep going, even in the harshest of conditions. Similarly, Mr Smith’s exhaustion is equally understandable, given the circumstances. It is the strength of Janusz’s spirit that gives the film its heart.

Weir adeptly illustrates the effect of the journey on his characters. From the considerations of cannibalism in times of starvation to the injuries felt by the group, The Way Back effectively conveys the encumbrance of such a trek. Particularly brutal are the physical afflictions suffered by characters; the blistered faces and swollen feet emphasise the toll of walking in extreme conditions.

Cinematographer Russell Boyd captures both the beauty and the savagery of the various locations. Long shots serve to illustrate the vastness of the landscape, as well as how far the men have to travel. Siberia appears cold and cruel with its subdued tones and dankness, while the dessert seems equally unbearable with frequent cuts to shots of the blazing sun.

Jim Sturgess offers a competent performance as Janusz, a thoroughly likeable character. Ed Harris adds weight as Mr Smith, the only character that appears to really evolve during the course of the film. Colin Farrell’s Valka adds a few moments of lightness, although the Russian accent is a little patchy.

Overall, The Way Back triumphs the big picture over the individual accomplishment. The film is for the most part absorbing, although it is the imagery rather than the personal stories that endures.