Quick Hit: Maddening in a thought provoking way.
mother! Stormed onto the scene last year when it became yet another famous example of “Critics vs. Populous”. There were reports of people walking out of the theater, while critics lavished it with praise. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, it’s really not surprising that people didn’t get what they asked for. The director’s IMDB page is filled with movies that are disturbing, upsetting, and normally not crowd pleasers. Black Swan and The Wrestler are probably two that most approach mainstream appeal, but movies like Requiem for a Dream are movies that are immediately among the first I think of when I look at a film labeled “disturbing”. But mother! Was marketed as a mainstream horror flick, and so people were understandably disappointed.
Because what they got instead was a confusing deconstruction of a Christianity, the current media culture, and, to top it all off, gender relationships.
There is A LOT going on in mother!, if you didn’t realize from the last sentence. Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence star, joined in supporting turns by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. To say more about their actual roles would be a disservice to those that want to break down the film themselves. Instead, what you need to know is that Bardem is a frustrated man who is trying to write. Jennifer Lawrence is his young wife who is attempting to redo their home.
The film is full of allusions to greater things, and devolves into a third act full of chaos. The symbolism is clear to me, especially when we get to some really, really disturbing religious tones. I can’t help but have a lot of discomfort with the total message, but you cannot deny that the movie is effective at what it is attempting to do. From the opening scenes, there is a profound sense of wrongness around the whole film. The film is shot in a large series of close-ups, usually of Lawrence’s face. Other characters are usually seen shot around Lawrence’s face, body, or behind her back. Others are sometimes seen from her point of view. The whole movie centers around her reactions, and so when things happen that she doesn’t like, the cinematography reflects that.
That brings me to the performances – I loved just about all of them. Lawrence should have been in the best actress conversation last year, because her performance is largely a reason for watching this movie. Bardem is also really good, especially when you begin to think around the context of what his role means. There wasn’t a single person I was disappointed with their performance.
There’s not much in the way of soundtrack – it’s similar to Annihilation in the sense that a large portion of its score consists of tonal assault.
So do I think most people will like this movie? Absolutely not. I’ve been thinking about this movie for over a week now, and I still can’t really decide if I like it or not. The movie is incredibly effective, despite being filled with a massive amount of imagery, chaos, and allusions. But, because I try to give a rating, I’m going to give mother! A “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"