“mother!” is written and directed by Darren Aronofsky and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film is about a couple who lets uninvited guests stay at their house, and from there it puts a strain on their relationship, and on their lives in general.
I was extremely excited to see this film, as its trailer was one that was incredibly effective and brilliantly made, and adding that to a ridiculously talented cast and a more than capable director, and it was safe to say that I had ridiculously high expectations coming in.
The performances from the whole cast are exceptional, with Jennifer Lawrence really impressing in the lead role. Lawrence is in pretty much every frame of this film, and the movie is told completely from her perspective, and I thought she handled the role very well and manages to use subtle expressions and the occasional outburst to create very strong emotion. Javier Bardem is excellent as the husband, as he consistently remains mysterious, almost as if he is ready to explode, and I found his performance absolutely fascinating to watch, especially towards the end of the film. Both Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer were terrific, but it was Pfeiffer who stole the show in nearly all of her scenes. Pfeiffer is pretty much despicable from start to finish, but she does it in a very smart, almost satirical way, and I thought that she played the role brilliantly.
Darren Aronofsky has made a film that lives and dies on the experience, and, for me, this film was one of the most unique, intense, unhinged, and borderline uncomfortable experiences I have ever had in a theater. This is by no means a movie made for the general audience, as many of the people I went to see this movie with absolutely hated it, and I can truly understand where they are coming from. This is a tough watch, but it is one that had me gripped and sucked into the film almost completely from start to finish, and that has a lot to do with Aronofsky’s absolutely visceral storytelling blended with a slow burn, and I could not have asked for a more original, mind-bending time at the theater than what I got.
I really loved the way this film was shot, as it is almost entirely on Lawrence’s face or shot from the exact viewpoint of Lawrence, and it made for a movie that never has all the answers, but is constantly enthralling and heart-pounding. Matthew Libatique did the cinematography, and combine that with Oscar-nominee Jóhann Jóhannsson’s chilling score, and this was a movie that’s aesthetics felt completely intertwined with the plot.
The final act of this film is one that cannot even be described with words. The best way to truly explain it is with one blanket statement: fucked up. It all feels random at points, but at the same time, Aronofsky is clearly trying to make a sort of message with the amount of violence, vulgarity, and the incredible amount of “OH SHIT” points that this conclusion reaches, and, once again, as an experience, it was brutally intense and well-executed for its entire duration.
This movie starts off hot early, and I thought that this was truly going to be two hours with very little cooldown time, but immediately after this hot start, the film slows quite a bit, and it took me out of some potentially important softer moments because I got a little bored. As soon as the film decides to really pick up again, it never hits the brakes again, but early there was a point in time where I thought I was in for a slog of a film.
The flaw that almost everyone is going to have with “mother!” is quite simple: it doesn’t seem to make a lick of sense. I do believe this is an intentionally tough film to watch, and while I won’t spoil Aronofsky’s deeper intentions while writing this movie, they are pretty well executed when looking back. Still, even after reading the supposed answers, these answers did not feel as clear as they should have when watching for the first time. I also still have an infinite amount of seemingly unanswered questions as to why certain characters do certain things and why particular moments in the story even exist, and I think these are simply because of some lazy storytelling instead of having a deeper meaning.
“mother!” is a tough film to sit through, but it also boasts some incredible performances, great camerawork, a tremendous score, and is, above all, an experience that I will truly never forget. Aronofsky has an incredible amount of balls for making a film this insane and this out there, and while I do respect his overall message and metaphor, there are absolutely things that could have been much more cleaned up and polished within the story itself. Still, even with the plot’s clear shortcomings, there is so much to admire and respect with this movie, and I definitely recommend giving “mother!” a shot. Sure, if you go with a group, about half will probably hate it, but this is a great movie to spark conversation and heated debate, and you just don’t get a lot of films like that anymore.
What did you think of “mother!”? Comment below with your thoughts.