This isn't a dour dramatisation of Argentina's darkest hour, however. The eclipse that briefly turns the screen red suggests a subtler shading that reveals the influence of Claude Chabrol, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Pablo Larrain on a scalpel-sharp dissection of the despicable charm of the bourgeoisie. Indeed, there are moments of acidic humour, as a troupe of American cowboys gets stranded after participating in a rodeo and Dieguito (Alfredo Castro), a Chilean cop who has become a TV celebrity, does his best Columbo impression. There's even something droll about the fact that the noirish conspiracies in which balding, moustachioed lawyer Claudio (Darío Grandinetti) becomes entangled are played out in the glare of the desert sun.
Set during the colonial period, the time when the British began claiming every piece of land they could from any alien outsider they came across — in this case, in the midst of “The Black War” — the story follows an Irish convict named Clare who has served more than just her sentence under the hands of her master, Lieutenant Hawkins.
Excellent though the performances are, the ensemble is somewhat upstaged by Naishtat's creative team. The muted colours in Julieta Dolinsky's production design have a tonal potency that is reinforced by Vincent Van Warmerdam's insinuating score, which follows Pedro Sotero's stealthy camerawork and Andres Quaranta's pugnacious editing in taking its cues from the aesthetics of ‘70s arthouse cinema. The cumulative effect is to disconcert and remind us how easily the everyday can spiral into the nightmarish.
"Mother!" Jennifer Lawrence got so much into her character that during the climactic scenes, she started hyperventilating and even cracked a rib. After filming the scene in which Jennifer Lawrence hyperventilated (and production was put on hold while she was placed on oxygen), members of the crew came up with the idea to make Lawrence her very own "happy place"--a tent complete with gumballs and clips of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" that play on a constant loop.
With each subplot reinforcing the simmering sense of unease, this compelling recreation of a pernicious period soberingly exposes the ease with which morality can become a casualty of human nature.