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New Review: mother! (2017)

Updated on September 16, 2017

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Javier Bardem, Jennifer Lawrence, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kristen Wiig, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson, Stephen McHattie,

Note: Spoilers are unavoidable here. I have to discuss things about the movie in order to explain my opinion. If you decide to see this movie (and I don’t recommend it in the slightest), then refrain from reading this review until after you’ve seen the movie.

Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a movie that wants to be talked about. It’s an art film, you see, and much of what happens in it is meant to be read as an allegory. When the movie opens with a charred house suddenly becoming new again, it’s supposed to symbolize Creation. And when a baby gets its neck broken and is eaten by a hoard of psychos, it’s supposed to symbolize Religion and Communion. Yes, that’s quite disgusting, but what good is an art film that doesn’t push the boundaries of good taste?

Listen, I understand that everyone has the right to express their opinions and beliefs, and I support it. I also believe that art is subjective, and that one person may interpret a movie in a way that’s different from someone else. Someone may see genius in a work that another may find offensive and grotesque. There have been many reviews written praising mother! for its audaciousness and its boldness to go places where other films wouldn’t dare (like the baby scene, for instance). On the other hand, there have been those who find it to be a pretentious and vile piece of garbage.

To let you know where I stand and why, I will have to discuss some spoilers. I’ll try not to spoil everything, but certain things will need to be revealed. Okay? Here we go.

My reaction about an hour into the film!
My reaction about an hour into the film!

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play an unnamed married couple who live in a secluded house out in the country. He’s a poet who seems to suffer from a terminal case of writer’s block, and she’s a happy housewife who’s sprucing the place up while he works. One night, they are visited by a Man (Ed Harris) who claims to be an orthopedic surgeon. He’s there because he mistook their place for a bed-&-breakfast, and when he tries to leave, Bardem’s character insists that he stay for the night.

The next day, the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up and makes herself right at home. She asks Lawrence some of the most intrusive questions (namely, her sex life with Bardem and why she doesn’t yet have children) and wanders all throughout the house, including Bardem’s private study, which Lawrence has made clear is off limits. Not too long after, the married couple’s two older children show up (Brian Gleeson and Domhnall Gleeson), and what follows is a bloody episode that is sure to remind some people of the story of Cain and Abel.

There is a sex scene halfway through the movie between Lawrence and Bardem that plays out more like a rape scene, and the next day, Lawrence tells him that she’s pregnant. The news of her pregnancy, and his interaction with the strange married couple, has suddenly inspired him to write again. Lawrence is moved to tears by his writing, and when he publishes it, the sales are astronomical. Unfortunately, his work has also inspired a following of people who invade his house, start a cult, and pretty much tear the place apart. It gets crazier from there, but that should be enough for now.

I was hoping for some outside time; anything so the movie would let us out of that darned house! O_O
I was hoping for some outside time; anything so the movie would let us out of that darned house! O_O

It becomes clear toward the end of the movie that the Bardem character is meant to represent God, and the house is meant to represent the world. People are so destructive and evil, that when they read the Bardem character’s beautiful writings, they go crazy and pervert it by building what looks like a Satanic cult out of it. Bardem, meanwhile, stands by with his creepy smile and allows them to destroy his house, telling his wife that they should forgive these people after the crap really hits the fan.

God, then, is depicted as an ass-kissing push over who allows people to commit atrocities just so He has an excuse to forgive them. I believe that Aronofsky believes that he’s showing God to be all loving, but if that was his intention, I can not fathom why he directed such a disturbing and off-putting performance out of Bardem. At the same time, I got the feeling like he was saying that God was stupid for allowing people into this world that He created. According to this movie, people are mindless animals who are only capable of destroying and corrupting everything beautiful in the world. Bardem and Lawrence’s life was just fine and wonderful until people started to show up.

Or maybe the ending is a metaphor for the Biblical Apocalypse, but if it is, I’m not sure what Aronofsky is trying to say. He makes many references to Biblical stories, but they’re assembled in such an unfocused, grotesque, and slapdash manner that the meaning is drained from them. There are also many aspects of the movie that are left unexplained, including the orange liquid we see Lawrence drinking every time she gets stressed. In the end, what mother! was to me was a confused, incredibly nasty, and unwatchable mess. Some people may find it profound and captivating; I thought it was excruciating.

Final Grade: no stars (out of ****)

Rated R for graphic disturbing scenes of violence, sexual content, nudity, profanity

What did you think of this movie? :D

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of mother! (2017)

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