Mother! is the new film from visionary director Darren Aronofsky, and the best I can say is it is definitely his vision. I saw this film on a Tuesday afternoon, and here it is Thursday night and I still can’t quite put into words what I saw. This film is wholly unique to Aronofsky, no one could have done what he did with this, and that is a good thing. On one hand, this movie is going to be praised for brilliance… one the other hand; it’s going to be lauded as pure garbage.
That’s honestly ok though. The best and most memorable movies will leave an impression on you, good or bad. They will have you sitting in your seat asking yourself what you saw, how did it make you feel? After the credits started to roll, I sat there thinking about this experience I just had, and I can’t come to a conclusion. I go back and forth on it and every couple hours I change my mind. Mother! Challenges the viewer in multiple ways, and it will require multiple viewings to make sense of it, if you can stomach more than one.
I will do my best to explain what I saw without going into any kind of spoilers, but that could be a foolhardy endeavor.
Mother! tells the story of a married couple living a quiet life in the country. Jennifer Lawrence plays the titular character Mother (yes, no real names, get used to that). She is twenty years younger than her husband, Him (played by Javier Bardem) but her love knows no bounds. Not only does she love Him, she cherishes Him, desires Him, idolizes Him. Mother has built the home Him and her (this is already confusing) from the ground up after a fire destroyed the home previously. She wants to make her home a tranquil and peaceful place, paradise as it were. That tranquility is interrupted when a mysterious person shows up at their door, Man (played by the incomparable Ed Harris). From there the movie starts to spiral more and more out of control. That’s really that main story, but when you see the movie, it is far more complicated.
The movie has a real quiet ambience to it. There is no musical score; all you have is the dialogue and the sounds of this house. You can feel the tension quietly build between Mother and Him. When Man comes to the door, there is a clear divide between Mother and the man (Him, not Man, confusing, I know) she adores. Lawrence’s quiet and subtle performance is astounding. The whole film is told from her perspective and you feel every bit on confusion and sadness and pain she feels. This is the best we have seen from her in a long time. Javier Bardem is also top notch as always, but since this is Mother’s story, you don’t really delve deep into Him.
Now I did say that film has a growing dread throughout the movie. The first two acts you feel this building as Mother senses a disturbance (in the Force, bada bing!) in her peaceful home, but can’t stop it. It cruises along at a steady pace, but we soon reach the third act and this movie explodes into pure insanity with a fire and fury unlike anything I’ve seen. I really can’t describe it; I’m not entirely sure what I saw. The best thing I can say is the editing for the last 30 minutes or so is spectacular. I know that’s a weird thing to point out but it’s true.
Aronofsky has admitted he wrote the script in less than a week, and it shows. There are metaphors wrapped in allegories wrapped symbolism and it just goes on. I have an idea what Aronofsky was going for and trying to say, and for that, I applaud him (Aronofosky, not… oh forget it). On the other hand, this is a heavy handed, preachy mess that is going to seriously piss people off. I guess polarizing is the best word for mother!. Right now, we may not understand and think it’s just drivel, in 30 years, we might be calling mother! a masterpiece.
Mother! is going to challenge you at an emotional and visceral level. I do believe this movie begs to be seen and a discussion is to be had. It’s wholly unique if anything else. Where I stand on it right now is I liked it, quite a bit. Tomorrow morning, I may feel differently. For that, I will give it two scores, something I’ve never done. One score for when I like it, one score for when I hate it. Just see the movie, decide for yourself.
I liked it: 73/100
I hated it: 34/100