Rated 4.0

Darren Aronofsky has cast such a long shadow over cinema for the last two decades, it’s hard to believe that Mother! is only his seventh feature film. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star as a couple sequestered in a suspiciously Edenic mansion. He is a famous writer struggling to get started on a follow-up book, while she is a hopelessly devoted, self-denying earth mother meticulously rebuilding their burnt mansion piece by piece. Much to her horror, interlopers enter the surreal mansion and make themselves right at home, increasing in number and fervency the closer the devotion-hungry writer gets to finishing his next book. Religious allegories ensue. This is about as self-contained as a movie can get, but it’s also a stupendously tense, disturbing and powerful piece of filmmaking, with Aronofsky in full command even as the world seems to spin off its axis in the final half hour. D.B.