A lot has been said about Darren Aronofsky‘s mother!, half of it good and the other half definitely not so good. So, I definitely went into this film with reservations. But I was still eager to see what the fuss was about.
mother! tells the story of a man and woman who live in a secluded house, away from the rest of society. The man, played by Javier Bardem, is a writer who is struggling to write his next success whilst his wife, played by Jennifer Lawrence, restores their house which has been previously damaged by fire. Soon, another man (Ed Harris) arrives and then his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) which the writer welcomes but Lawrence’s character feels intruded upon. As things escalate, she witnesses many strange events and is eventually fearful within her own home, leading to some devastating consequences.
First things first, let’s talk about the positives. The performances from most of the cast are fantastic. They really bring you into this world that Aronofsky has created. Lawrence in particular is great, despite the extreme close-up shots of her that dominate the film and make you feel a little nauseous. She gets put through a great deal during the runtime of the film and emotions run high almost constantly and she manages to hold it together. The scenes with her and Bardem were good but what really shone for me was the dialogue between Pfeiffer and Lawrence. They have some strange conversations but Pfeiffer really provides grounding for them.
As for the story, I was locked into it for the first thirty minutes. The way these intruders flood into the house and how their lives begin to invade too was very intriguing. The lies, the manipulations, the mystery were all pretty captivating. And then, it all went bizarre.
Many films require you to suspend disbelief. In fact, half the films I enjoy have flying people, wizards and laser swords! But this film, somehow, took it all to far. About midway through the film, scene after scene is filled with endless nonsense, images and characters that make no sense. You are bombarded with all of these bizarre ideas that have only one purpose-metaphor. This film, as many do, has a message of some kind. Usually, it is not so blatant but here, the entire film becomes the metaphor it is trying to convey and everything becomes nonsensically about this idea. Plot gets thrown out of the window and events just happen for no reason. Worse still, horrific things are shown to you but because they are thrown at you so haphazardly, they have no impact. None. I came away from this film almost entirely unaffected by it except for the irritation I felt for how full of itself it was. All the strengths the film had in the first half an hour- the mystery, the performances, the suspense- all of them get thrown out of the window for the sake of this metaphor.
Whilst the film’s message is important, it would be far more impactful if it was put into some meaningful vessel. Perhaps Aronofsky wanted the controversy from the film being the way it is. Whatever the case, this is not a film you should bother to head to cinemas for. Get busy living.