Film Review – mother! (2017)
After a self-imposed sabbatical, Darren Aronofsky is back to entertain (?) with his next movie, mother! With him are two of the most talented actors in the business, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. Aronofsky movies haven’t been the most pleasant pieces of art, but his films are always a major talking point between members of the film community. In this instance, mother! is no different. The following review will be spoiler free.
Mother (Lawrence) and Him (Bardem) have recently moved back into their house that was burned down for unknown reasons. As Mother works on making the house their “paradise,” Bardem struggles as a poet with a serious bout of writer’s block. As the story progresses, a strange man (Harris) enters their home to Mother’s disapproval, quickly followed by a woman (Pfeiffer) that seems to have less than ideal motivations.
However, as events unfold, we quickly learn that basically nothing is what it seems.
Upon wrapping production for Noah back in 2014, Darren Aronofsky actually started working on a children’s movie, but exclaimed that he couldn’t quite crack it. For the sanity of children everywhere, I’m glad he moved onto this project.
As Aronofsky described, the story for mother! came to him in a “fever dream.” Thoughts bombarded his mind, causing him to finish the first draft of the film in only five days. Upon the release of the film to critics, Aronofsky explained that he was distraught with the world, unable to handle its issues in regards to climate change, politics, and many other hot topics.
In fact, Darren Aronofsky himself has explained that the movie may not be the most streamlined. In an interview, the director of Black Swan exclaimed that “if you try to unscrew it, it kind of falls apart.” He went on to say that “it’s a psychological freak-out. You shouldn’t over-explain it.”
After learning of this information, I quickly shared the sentiment of many critics. What the hell was I in for?
*Disclaimer* – This Movie is NOT What You Think It is
If the background info wasn’t enough for you to realize this fact, I’ll come right out and say it.
For those who are looking forward to seeing this movie based off of the trailers that paint this movie as a horror film, you will leave this film very disappointed. This film is not a psychological horror. This film is not a different interpretation of Rosemary’s Baby. In fact, there’s really no category that mother! can fit within.
mother! is one giant metaphor. Well, not exactly, it’s actually multiple metaphors and allegories that fit within other metaphors and allegories to create a bizarre vomit of ideas. Each person that sees this movie will have some different interpretation of it. There’s biblical discussion interwoven with talk of nature and a general view of this supposed terrible world that we live in. The synopsis I gave earlier in this review doesn’t really give this film justice. In fact, I doubt that any general synopsis could truly represent this film without diving into spoiler territory.
Solid Performances May By the Only Tangible Items
The one thing that this critic can truly lock down is that they’re solid performances to behold. After a few films where Jennifer Lawrence was seemingly phoning it in, she has thankfully reverted to form in mother!. For the majority of mother!‘s run time, the camera has close-ups that are completely focused on Lawrence, forcing her to be on her game at all times. mother! is essentially her reaction to a series of bonkers and metaphorical sequences that take place. Without a committed performance, many might exclaim that mother! is the worst movie of the year (some people might even say that regardless). Every actor gives a committed performance, for that matter.
Everything is else something that no one besides Aronofsky will lock down completely. There’s some great camera work and utilization of grainy footage that set the scene nicely, but it’s that scene that is set that will raise questions.
“Pretentious” May be an Understatement
There’s a prevailing thought that if an artistic film is called “pretentious,” that person just doesn’t “get” the film. That may be true in some instances, but the term definitely fits here. As Aronofsky explained himself, mother! is a purging of one’s inner thought. In the end, it amounts to a film that that contains messages that directly conflict with other messages. To top it off, many of these ideas are horribly on the nose. When you add in a tedious sense of pacing and story composition, mother! amounts to a punishing film that too much to say without honing in on something for you to leave the theater and think about.
Aronofsky’s mother! is a film that the term “experimental” just doesn’t explain. Ultimately, mother! becomes over the top and just downright vulgar making you wonder, did I really need to see that?
That being said, you might find this film amazingly profound, leaving me to look like an idiot.
mother! is bonkers. That’s about as concrete as this review will get.
Every so often, there’s one of those movies in which everyone will have a different interpretation. mother! is a prime example of this notion. Acting almost as a Russian nesting doll of metaphors and allegories, mother! can be admired for its pure ambition. However, one must question: why? In this critic’s humble opinion, mother! is a film that contains countless conflicting messages and themes and results in a punishing experience that you probably shouldn’t have to pay to see. It gets a C-.
There’s no doubting that there’s some serious auteurship behind this film, but it feels like Aronofsky was just out to make a movie to quell his inner anguish rather than leave the audience with with some type of emotional experience.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on mother!? Comment down below!
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*Quotations via The Guardian