Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"In the realm of the insane reason has no place. Anything is possible. Even the impossible"

The house stands in a field of tall grass like a dreamscape, like a theatre set. The walls breathe, pulsating with the heartbeat of something other, beyond beauty, before birth, containing the memories of fire.

The unnamed heroine (Jennifer Lawrence) is the young wife of a poet (Javier Bardem).

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"I want to make a paradise," she says.

The camera follows her, stays close. She and the camera are together. They are one.

She misses his love. She looks for it, feels the loss. His eyes are troubled. He hasn't written a word for weeks, perhaps months. He can't remember how long. Has coming here destroyed his creativity? Is her need feeding off his failure?

The baby moves in her imagination. She touches her skin. She wants the house to protect them. She is passionate about the poet's language, as are his followers, those outside, beyond the shelter of her comfort.

She nurtures the child in her belly. This is her gift to him and to the world.

And then the invasion begins. First a sick man (Ed Harris). Alone.

"He's a doctor," the poet says.

"He's a stranger," she says.

Next come his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their sons. Out of nowhere. Uninvited. Violent. Treating her like a servant.

"Who are you?"

She seeks solace in her room until even that is violated. The poet is lionised while she is ignored, dismissed.

"This is my house. I want you to leave."

They stay. Crowds gather. The poet's block breaks. His muse returns. Is it the adulation? Is it the force of fame? He pens a poem. The party begins. Her baby howls in the womb. She hides.

It would be easy to admonish writer/director Darren Aronofsky for self indulgence. What does it all mean? Is this a metaphor for the world in which we live? The plot slides into anarchy. Are these images from Dante's Inferno? Is hell a product of the celebrity culture?

In the realm of the insane reason has no place. Anything is possible. Even the impossible.

Lawrence's performance and Aronofsky's trust in her gives the film a genuine sense of unease. You cannot simply laugh it off as a glammed up episode of The X Files. It may go bonkers at the end and leave you stunned and speechless but as a work of art it demands serious scrutiny.

Once realism has been compromised the dark energy of the imagination cuts itself loose from the shackles of conventional thought.

Don't forget to duck.

Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2017
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Uninvited guests threaten a couple's relationship.
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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, Kristen Wiig, Stefan Simchowitz, Jovan Adepo, Robert Higden, Amanda Warren, Eric Davis, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Mizinga Mwinga

Year: 2017

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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