By Armando Gallo
It was like a sanctuary outside the ArchLight cinemas in Hollywood: Hundreds of candles burned below a long wall covered in photos of Him, played by Javier Bardem, the only character written with a capital letter in the credits of “mother!” the latest Darren Aronofsky controversial film presented at Venice and TIFF to mixed reviews and this week end in nationwide release. It was a generous hint for the film buffs at the a special screening that was taking place inside on the huge Cinerama Dome cinema, followed by Q & A with the Brooklyn director and his two producers, Ari Handel and Scott Franklin.
Questions showed that the film had baffled the attentive audience and raised various topics that went from mentions of Rosemary’s Baby to the inquisitive morality of a narcissi God, before Darren himself asked the audience if anybody had some biblical question. His explanation about Jennifer Lawrence playing Mother Earth to Bardem’s God figure, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeifer playing Adam and Eve produced some gasps mixed by shy applause in the audience.
“It is a hard film to take,” agreed the director. “And I am convinced that a second viewing would be rewarding to all.” Added Darren who wrote the bone of the script in a 5 days rupture and found Jennifer Lawrence perfect for the part because “Her talent has no boundaries, totally untouched by normal training.” He was quick to remark. “This is a two hour long movie and 66 minutes of the film is a close-up of Jen’s face and you never feel claustrophobic, you never feel bored, you are always wondering what she is doing and that is a remarkable accomplishment for any actor.”
To lack of a soundtrack Darren replied: “I worked with Johann Johannsson for four and a half months on a score, there is a full score written, but what Johann realized was that whenever we stuck it into a scene, it cheated and let the audience know the feel. And the reality is, Jen is the score of the movie. You are leaning into seeing what she is feeling and trying to figure out what she is thinking and if you don’t pay attention to that and the music comes in, it just tilts it off and give too much away. Johann is an amazing artist and he offered his talent on the sound design, that is very important when the house get broken into representing the raping of this planet.”
Darren is a radical environmentalist and very concerned of climate change.
“This is not a horror movie per se and its not a reflection of what is happening to our planet, but it’s a cautionary tale” he said. “I don’t believe in the Devil and I am an optimistic. The last chapter of Mother Earth hasn’t been written yet.”
The director had left a crowd full of questions chatting in the foyer of the Cinerama Dome for a long while.
Although it might be the first opening bomb of Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence I found her performance phenomenal. I had seed the movie a week before in Toronto and my memory remembered it in grey and grainy. After the Cinerama Dome, and I wasn’t the only one seeing the film for the second time, the story appeared to me in vivid colours. Metaphorically speaking, it was like reading a good book for the second time and understanding everything between the lines. I was saddened to read that Cinemascore gave the movie the dreaded F. This meant that the people asked at the exit to rate the movie didn’t want to think at all!
I personally found that a good percentage of the people who went to see the special screening at the Cinerama Dome found “mother!” very inspiring indeed.
It just requires a little help from your beautiful mind. This is a movie that forces you to think.