A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
mother! Is absolutely not going to be for everyone, but hey, this is a Darren Aronofsky film and if you didn’t like Black Swan, Requiem For a Dream or Pi, you probably won’t like the writer/director's latest effort either.
There is no way to tell you what mother! is about without spoiling the film, but let it be known that however you think the movie is going to take place, it probably doesn’t, and if you have watched any of the trailers -- it’s completely different to how they sell this movie. It’s a completely unique, abstract film about metaphors -- it’s a metaphorical movie, and it eventually beats you over the head into submission with its themes. But can you describe mother!? Here is an inaccurate synopsis: Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem live in a house together. Without notice, a man shows up, then a woman, and weirder things start happening as more people turn up at their home.
Aronofsky slowly paces out the first two acts of the film with the third turning into a frantic mess that played on me to a level, leaving me nearly breathless. If you suffer from any form of anxiety, like I do, you may struggle to watch the last third. As the audience, you are beaten over the head with the thematics of the abstract analogies that Aronofsky is playing with and it’s not peaceful, it’s not quiet, and it’s not fun -- but it’s not supposed to be. It can seem too much and two people actually walked out of the cinema in my screening at one point -- I couldn’t really blame them. Although mother! becomes hard to watch at times, this commitment to the themes deserves respect, especially for Jennifer Lawrence who goes through absolute hell and torment by the end of this film in more ways than one.
Having said all of that: mother! is not a horror film, nor should it really be considered a thriller, even if at times it is thrilling in nature. It’s a cinema experience from a brave director who is willing to yell at you in the seats. His anger, thoughts and emotions through the story and events will simply be a lot for people to endure. I can pinpoint the moment the two people left in my cinema, and probably other cinemas, and the question is -- was that too far? Well, this is art and mother! can, and probably will be called pretentious, but that’s what needs to be done sometimes, and I applaud Aronofsky.
mother!’s bigger flaw is its paper-thin characters. As every single person in this story is basically being used as a metaphorical example theatre piece, they are all barely people. Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job with what she has, but her role is so thin that it wasn’t until I clicked to what I thought the film was that I stopped thinking she was just terribly written. Javier Bardem's character: thin. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer: thin.
Unfortunately, I have no idea whether you should watch mother! It’s a hard film to describe; it’s a slow-burn that turns into a hard watch. It contains 10 minutes of the hardest cinema I’ve had to endure in years, and yet, I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll probably be thinking about this film for the next week (at least), and that’s, I believe, what Aronofsky wants from his audience. I love it, you'll only know how you feel if you brave the cinema to watch it yourself.
Directors: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer