There is plenty to try and decipher about the psychological thriller mother!. For example, one could wonder whether the story about an unnamed couple trying to build a paradise called “Eden” is a parallel to the Bible. It’s ambiguous to the point where the characters don’t even have names. It’s a chaotic yet intriguing labyrinth.
But aside from lead actress Jennifer Lawrence, one actress that makes the chaos worth watching is Michelle Pfeiffer. As a woman referred to only as Woman, Pfeiffer is absolutely spellbinding. Her Woman is someone who, along with her ill husband (Ed Harris), unexpectedly arrives at the paradise that Him (Javier Bardem) and Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) have crafted for themselves and appears all free-spirited yet may or not be as wholesome as she appears.
Pfeiffer nails the mystique surrounding her character and from the minute she appears on screen to the last, she inhales every single frame she appears in even with just a look. Her best scene is one where Mother and Woman talk about Mother’s desire to have children. When Pfeiffer is further away from the camera, she’s spunky and welcoming. But she starts to give this piercing gaze that gets more paralyzing as she moves closer to the camera. Even Mother starts to shudder once Woman observes her as if she’s prey.
Much like how the film is a puzzle, we can try to piece the puzzle together ourselves to find out what makes Woman tick. Is Woman a friend or foe? Even though she’s likely an allegory to Eve, could she be the Serpent in disguise? What did she even spike in her special lemonade?
Michelle Pfeiffer’s work is the textbook definition of a supporting performance. One where the actor has a sparse amount of screen time yet still leaves a large impression when on screen while simultaneously fueling the arc of the main character. In a category that has been plagued with cases of category fraud (i.e. Rooney Mara in Carol, Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, etc.), it’d be quite refreshing to see more actual supporting actress performances like Pfeiffer’s get cited.
Not to mention, Michelle Pfeiffer has had one heck of a comeback year. She received an Emmy nomination for Wizard Of Lies and was the best part of the Murder On The Orient Express remake which is becoming a domestic hit. A nomination for her would also be a nice way of welcoming her back to the ceremony since she hasn’t been Oscar nominated since 1992 for Love Field. Plus, she’s been unfairly ignored for her supporting performances in Batman Returns and White Oleander.
mother! may be a difficult and confusing sit. But even its naysayers have praised Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance. So why not nominate one of the year’s best scene-stealing turns given by one of the most gifted actresses working today?