* * (Joyce)
* * ½ (Don)
(Confusing allegorical horror)
We, like most critics, disagreed on this one.
First of all, it is a tense, violent horror story. Second, it is an allegory, with many biblical references.
The star, Jennifer Lawrence, described it as an allegory about "the rape and torture of Mother Earth.” However you interpret it, there is no doubt about its weirdness.
Jennifer Lawrence plays the young mousy, subservient wife of a self-centered older poet. She spends her time catering to his every needs and fixing up an old house that was destroyed by fire. (An inconsistency, as some weird scenes show the house completely destroyed).
A man shows up at the door (Ed Harris), and the husband (Javier Bardem) invites him to stay. Subsequently, his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) appears, followed by their two sons (Domhnall and Brian Gleeson). Much to Mother's displeasure, the family takes over the house, a shooting occurs, and then the movie goes completely bizarre, as people show up for a wake.
And that's the first hour.
After that the movie goes completely bonkers, as Mother gets pregnant, has a child, the poet becomes famous, thousands of fans show up at the house and completely destroy it and any sense to what is going on, as the movie turns to chaos and violence. If that's not enough, the ending leaves you wondering what the heck happened.
Movie scholars will certainly read what they want into the movie, while others will find it outrageous or pretentious. Joyce gave up earlier in the movie than I did, as I had hope for it to go in a different direction. The ending, to both of us, was a major mess.
Rated R, with extreme violence, nudity, profanity and utter confusion.