Depending on when exactly you ask the question, Darren Aronofsky is one of the most adventurous and distinct American filmmakers currently working or, perhaps more accurately, trying to work. For many cinephiles, Aronofsky is a hit-and-miss artist, in the same vein as someone like Danny Boyle or Claire Denis, with new classics like Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and The Wrestler hovering above more ambitious projects like Noah or The Fountain. From my point of view, Aronofsky is an artist who has been limited only by his means: The Wrestler is far more fluid and impactful than Noah specifically because it was cheap(-ish) to make and therefore didn’t require constant nitpicks from producers or other overseers.
That’s perhaps exactly why Aronofsky’s long-teased new movie, a mysterious relationship drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, seems so promising from afar. Almost nothing but the cast for the film, which also includes the likes of Domnhall Gleeson and Michelle Pfeiffer, has been announced thus far but during an interview in Reykjavik, he dropped a few facts that should fascinate any fan of the director. According to Indiewire, the filmmaker revealed that the new movie was shot entirely on 16mm, which would be reason enough to get curious about Aronofsky’s project alone. On top of that, however, he also said that this will be his first film not working with Clint Mansell, who has been with him since Pi. Instead, the Sicario and The Theory of Everything composer Johann Johannsson will be putting together the score for Aronofsky’s latest.
Conversely, Aronofsky has indeed worked with 16mm before, specifically in Pi, his exquisite, beguiling debut. Following the relative failure of Noah, a very good movie that got lambasted upon its release, it would make sense that Aronofsky might want to move back towards something more personal and less dependent on flashy visual effects. So, though the movie has big names like Bardem and Lawrence might suggest otherwise, Aronofsky’s latest may be an attempt to reconnect and explore with the basic ideas that got him interested in movies. He did let out this last quote about the new movie during the Reykjavik discussion that hints at bigger ambitions, however. Here’s what he said:
“I think all my early films were more about ideas…When it came to ‘Noah,’ there was this clear environmental statement in the original gospel, which was interesting to push forward. My latest project probably has similar political intentions behind it, but first and foremost responsibility as a narrative filmmaker is making something that is emotional and can connect with an audience.”
From my angle, Aronofsky’s film have always had a political undercurrent, even if the politics aren’t particularly clean or simple or important in a national sense. Black Swan and The Wrestler consider identity politics and the liberating aspects of expression in ways that touch on matters of money, sexuality, and drugs, which are about as political as modern subjects go. Still, one has to be a little fascinated by what Aronofsky means by what he said, and I’m impatient to see how it will play out in this mysterious upcoming drama.