“Mother!” stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Released on September 15, 2017, the film is about a couple who faces some dangerous secrets when a few mysterious visitors arrive at their home.
The film is directed by Darren Aronofsky, who also directed films such as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and Black Swan. This has to be some sort of sign that Halloween came early this year. Last weekend saw the release of the well-received horror film, “It”, and now we are getting what seems to be one of the most bizarre and creepiest films ever made. I haven’t seen that much of Aronofsky’s filmography, but seeing the marketing for myself might make me want to view his other films when all is said and done. So far, I’ve been hearing plenty of mixed responses for this film. Some say that it’s good, some say that it’s not that good, and some say that it’s confusing as heck. We’ve seen quite a few movies that heavily divided critics and audiences, mostly horror ones, and this film looks like it could be the latest one to join that list. But just how divided is this film, and more importantly, what’s my take on it? Just to be clear, this may be my most complicated review I’ve ever done, so please bear with me.
First off, if you’re expecting this movie to be a non-stop psychological horror film based on the marketing, well, let’s just say that there’s definitely some crazy moments in it, but you will have to go through the dialogue-driven scenes in the first two acts in order to get to those points. This is one of those films where the story gets more and more insane as it went on. While the third act is truly violent and crazy, the other acts didn’t quite reach the same amount of impact as they intended. Sure, it was disturbing at times, but the majority of the film is basically like any other drama film that involves married couples. A bit melodramatic, but understandable for real-life couples. I appreciate the direction that Aronofsky took to make the experience a bit more interesting and surreal, such as showcasing the events from only the perspective of Lawrence’s character, but the symbolism that is shown in the film (mostly biblical) was not only a bit too disturbing for some sensitive viewers, but also unclear to those who are going into this blind. The story can also be a bit predictable and slow during some scenes. Throughout the film, I took a guess on what’s going to happen at the end. When it got to the third act, I was somewhat right, so clearly it didn’t offer any surprises that would affect me as much as the disturbing content. There were a couple of things in the film that I happened to enjoy, such as the cast and the cinematography. Jennifer Lawrence was once again very talented as the wife, who goes by the name “Mother”. I am not kidding, that’s her actual name. Javier Bardem also gives out an impressive performance as Mother’s husband, Him (Again, not kidding, that’s his actual name), a poet who allowed a bunch of strangers into his home. I’m pretty sure that his name will give you some sort of hint of what it means. However, when I look at his character without the biblical symbolism, I see him as an idiotic husband who showcases more love to his “people” compared to showcasing love to his wife. That’s just how I see him, but feel free to disagree with me if you want. The cinematography that is provided by Matthew Libatique marvelously captures the sheer tendency of silence and disturbance despite having a lot of close-up shots of the actors. I’m serious, the cameraman is clearly invading their personal space. As much as I like seeing Jennifer Lawrence up close, I really don’t think we need to be that close to her throughout 90% of the film.
Overall, Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” is best described as a modern, yet nightmarish, biblical tale that’s artistic for big movie buffs, but very conflicting and somehow underwhelming for regular audiences in general. In fact, my whole experience with the film is filled with non-stop confliction. I can understand what Aronofsky is going for, but, from my own personal perspective, I think it could’ve been told in a way that both film critics and general audiences can understand. The cast was very talented and the cinematography was remarkable, but they weren’t enough to overcome its unclear themes and its underwhelming melodramatic story. In other words, I just don’t really connect with this film as much as everybody else who does. If I were to give out some sort of advice to those who are planning on seeing this movie, I would say don’t walk into it thinking that it’s going to be a straight-up horror film and keep your expectations low. Also, if you happen to be a Christian, please tread carefully. Now you know what I mean when I said that this may be my most complicated review I’ve ever done.