If you have seen the trailer for mother! and you’re not entirely sure what it’s about, you’re not alone. I saw the same trailer for it probably 5 or 6 times and left feeling intrigued and also extremely confused. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I’m still intrigued… and still somewhat confused. If you’re going to see mother! and you’re expecting a horror… you won’t exactly get that. If you’re going to see a thriller, I mean you won’t entirely get that either. It doesn’t really fit in any one genre. Even if you asked Aronofsky himself, I doubt he’d have an answer to which genre it should be assigned to, honestly.
Having said all that, I really enjoyed it. Some critics are hailing it as a masterpiece, some are calling it a mess. I wouldn’t call it either. The first thing you have to be willing to understand and accept if you’re going to see it… is that it’s a Darren Aronofsky film. Some of the most bizarre and most “pretentious” films came out of this man’s vision – Black Swan, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream. While all are good films, Aronofsky seems to enjoy creating a film that is so atmospheric that you’re unsettled and disturbed by what you’ve just watched. And he accomplishes his task very well.
It’s clear that a ton of thought and effort went into crafting this allegorical story. I’m not going to pussyfoot around this one, there are going to be straight up spoilers, because it’s impossible to review this movie without spoiling it. It took me almost the entirety of the film to figure out what it was going for – for about 75% of the movie, I was sure it was just a woman going crazy with paranoia in her home – but the last 25% of the film solidified for me that Jennifer Lawrence playing “mother” was of course, Mother Earth, and the film was the literal expanse of human history. It starts out slow and solitary, mother and Him being the only two beings in existence. Slowly, but surely, people start to show up… first a man, then a woman, then their children… then the general human populace, until the last 30 minutes of the film is filled with chaos and destruction. Sound familiar? It should. It’s kind of genius in that sense. They took a 2 hour film and crammed the entirety of human existence into it, proportionally. The more I think about it, the more impressed I am by the metaphors and the fact that I didn’t grasp most of what I watched until after I left the theatre. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I immediately went home to google it and to confirm if what I was thinking was actually what they were intending (it was, and then some!) I can’t help it – I’m impressed.
I loved most of the casting – I mean, Javier Bardem as “Him,” Ed Harris as “the man,” Michelle Pfeiffer as “the woman” and Kristen Wiig randomly appearing towards the end of the film… if that didn’t throw me off my game, I don’t know what did. Jen… oh, Jen. I love Jennifer Lawrence and I think she’s an extremely talented actress, but I can’t help but think she was horribly miscast. Whereas Jen is typically a bold actress who isn’t afraid to play controversial or difficult roles, she was cast as a meek and selfless mother. It just didn’t fit. She acted so well and she was still really good, it just wasn’t the best casting choice, I suppose!
All in all, if you’re looking for an uncomfortable 2 hours with gore, some disturbing imagery, and a look into what our future could hold as the human race… this is where you need to come. Tense and claustrophobic, it’s an Aronofksy film through and through, that’s for sure.