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‘mother!’: 7 Things to Know About Darren Aronofsky’s Crazy Return to Psychological Horror

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem lead the cast of Aronofsky's most secretive project to date.

"mother!"

“mother!”

Has Darren Aronofsky ever made a movie more secretive than “mother!”? His new film is just over one month from opening and there have been no photos released, no confirmation of what character each cast member is playing, and barely any footage shown to the public. For a movie from a major director and studio, plus one that features one of the world’s biggest stars in a leading role, this is simply unheard of. The director is refusing to let “mother!” out from under lock and key, and it’s only causing anticipation to skyrocket.

“mother!” is gearing up for appearances at Venice and Toronto, hinting that Paramount could have an awards contender on its hands. Aronofsky’s last movie, the Biblical epic “Noah,” was dismissed by the Academy, but he had much better luck with “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler.” While the movie is still under heavy secrecy, there have been enough teases of information to know we’re in store for something truly special from Aronofsky.

Here’s everything you need to know about “mother!”

Aronofsky is Channeling His Inner “Black Swan” Once Again

Probably the most exciting thing for fans is that “mother!” marks the filmmaker’s return to psychological-horror, a genre he perfected with previous entries like “Black Swan” and “Requiem for a Dream.” A source close to the project confirmed to The Wrap at CinemaCon earlier this year that the movie was in fact a horror-thriller, and Paramount Domestic Distribution chief Kyle Davies told reporters to expect “chills and thrills.”

The official plot synopsis from Paramount is quite brief: “A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.” The 30-second teaser that arrived online this week suggests something malevolent and deadly unfolds (Lawrence’s character can be heard screaming “murderer”), and the official poster depicting Jennifer Lawrence ripping her heart out implies the same.

Aronofsky was last on the big screen in 2014 with “Noah.” While that film did include elements of psychological horror in dealing with the effect of the end of mankind on Noah’s psyche, it appears “mother!” is going to be a return to form for a director who has mastered the art of psychological chaos.

"mother!"

“mother!”

The Movie Features His Most Star-Studded Ensemble to Date

Aronofsky has been working with big stars for quite awhile now, from Natalie Portman to Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, but he’s never had the kind of star-studded cast that “mother!” features. Leading the film are Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. Supporting players include Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, Domnhall Gleeson, Kristen Wiig, and “Fences” breakout Jovan Adepo. With this kind of talent in front of the camera, it would appear “mother!” is more of an ensemble effort than a two-hander.

The film is under such secrecy that none of the actors’ roles have even been confirmed yet. The teaser trailer more or less revealed that Lawrence and Bardem will be playing the central couple (Bardem’s character is heard saying the intruders thought their home was a bed and breakfast), while Pfeiffer and Harris are two of the intruding guests. Based on the trailer’s dialogue, it appears Harris arrives at the couple’s home first, followed by his wife (Lawrence asks Bardem, “Did you know he had a wife?”). Expect Wiig, Gleeson, and Adepo to be other guests that arrive.

It’s the First Aronofsky Movie Without Composer Clint Mansell

One of the defining collaborators of Aronofsky’s career has been Clint Mansell. The composer has created the original scores to every Aronofsky movie, which makes his absence on “mother!” both shocking and disappointing. It was Aronofsky who first introduced Mansell to the world of films scores when the director asked the musician to compose the score to his feature debut “Pi.” The director was a fan of Mansell’s alternative rock band Pop Will Eat Itself. Aronofsky invited Mansell back for “Requiem for a Dream,” where the track “Lux Aeterna” became a fixture of both of their careers.

Replacing Mansell is Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, best known for his collaborations with Denis Villeneuve on “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” and “Arrival.” “Sicario” earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score in 2015, just a year after his first nomination in the same category for “The Theory of Everything.” Jóhannsson will also be featured on the “Blade Runner 2049” score this fall.

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