• by Wes Singleton

Mother! - C-

Rated R, 115 minutes

The new psychological thriller "Mother!" is a wild ride, and not always in a good way. From acclaimed director and writer Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan," "Requiem for a Dream"), it starts out as a disquieting, off-kilter psychological drama goes wildly off the rails in its last 30 minutes into an incoherent mess that never recovers. Wasting a terrific cast and intriguing premise, it's a heavy-handed allegory about love, devotion and sacrifice, certainly testing an audience's sacrifice for making it through to the end.

A couple's relationship (Oscar-winners Jennifer Lawerence and Javier Bardem) is tested when uninvited guests (Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer) arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

"Mother!" is an interesting, occasionally watchable failure of a movie, directed and written with a heavy hand from Aronofsky, that would nearly work if not for that acid-trip of an ending that will leave many saying "Huh?" It's certainly not for many mainstream audiences, who would need to take acid to decipher the movie, which seems to have emerged from a series of therapy sessions, given all the obvious themes about relationships, commitment and the sacrifices we make for those we love.

Admittedly, as wildly uneven as it becomes, "Mother!" actually starts out nicely, as a strange, slightly unnerving psychological drama, especially when a dying man and his wife, memorably played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, show up to see their favorite poet Him (Bardem) and won't leave, which irks Mother (Lawrence, likable as always, but probably too young for the part), and bringing a host of other problems with them.

Aronosky, who's never been a stranger to unconventional or disturbing ideas, choreographs everything well, especially in its initial chapters as it moves around that enormous house, but when people - lots and lots of people - start showing up at the house to show their devotion to the great poet, the story falls underneath a weight of incoherent, sketchy ideas that are never fully explored (everything from war to cannibalism to cults and more). You would hope that at some point it'd just be a bad dream, but then it keeps going on and on.

Bardem and Lawrence do their best with what they're given, though that isn't saying much. Aronofsky is still an intriguing filmmaker, and I give him props for attempting something provocative like this, but ends up head-scratching. On that note, "Mother!" with some of the talk it will likely generate, still doesn't work, and if you really wanna make a sacrifice, go see "It" again instead of this.

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