Mother’s obsession with the rebuilding of her beloved’s house that burnt to ashes in a fire one day, many moons before she arrived, leads to her developing an intimate relationship with the house.
And she literally builds and heals it back to life. The house is fragile, old but seems to be getting slowly revitalised. That adds to its charm.
Him is struggling with writing. He seems to have a mental block of sorts when a stranger (Ed Harris) comes knocking one afternoon, setting the scene for events that will lead to Mother being tested beyond her limits and giving until her essence is depleted.
At first watch, the film is difficult to swallow - not because it’s complex or difficult to follow. There are aspects that leave it open to interpretation. The viewer is forced to interrogate every scene, item and shot to see what the deeper meaning is and what that says the film is about.
It is shot mostly in a three-storey house that needed to have it’s own character because it is an essential part of the film. The way the film is written, Mother and the house seem to have a deep and intimate relationship.
She spends a large amount of time working to make the house prettier and prettier.
At first we seem to be told that this happens because she wants the home of the man she loved restored to its former glory to help him, but we later realise that as the house suffers through pain, being destroyed by the fans and supporters of the poet, she suffers as well.
Every time a portion of the house is “killed”, Mother puts her hand on the wall and we see it die a little more inside.
Michelle Pfeiffer plays the role of Woman beautifully, bringing to it the sass and charisma you can get only from an older woman who’s lived through life well.
She begins as a fairly innocent, good-hearted woman and later develops into a calculating, worldly woman. Each evolution of her character is played with the right amount of grace. Her relationship to Harris on screen is dynamic.
Lawrence is enigmatic in her portrayal of Mother, and the film is shot mostly in wide and long shots, but always from Mother’s point of view.
The chemistry between Bardem and Lawrence is beautiful; theirs is a fragile but committed partnership to a point where the viewer is drawn to them and empathises with them.
The themes explored in the film include love, devotion, fairness, justice and jealousy. It’s a beautifully shot film that forces you to think and engage.
If you walk out of the cinema not understanding what the film is about, fear not. Once you watch it over and over again, and you get told that the narrative is the story of planet Earth and religion, the pieces will start falling into place.
It’s a rather refreshing take on religion and tackling issues of global warming.