Jennifer Lawrence stars as Mother, along with Javier Bardem as Him. He is a famous poet who is dealing with a long, and frustrating case of writers block. She spends her time renovating their large, remote country house into an idyllic Eden. They live a quiet life together until one night a stranger stops by. When more guests start arriving, Mother and Him feel conflicted between the invasion of their home, and his burst of inspiration to write.
Darren Aronofsky directs mother! by keeping the camera fixed to Lawrence. Large portions of the film are made up of close ups on Lawrence’s face, following closely over her shoulder, or watching from her POV. The effect is disorientating because we never get a sense of space. The house has winding hallways and we get lost. We are never quite sure what is around any corner. This unsettling atmosphere is where much of the horror comes from.
mother! is filled with symbolism, metaphors, and parables. There are many different ways to read the movie, and try and figure out exactly what Aronofsky was going for. This is the type of film video essayist will be dissecting for years to come. But that can also lead to a sense of frustration. There are no easy answers, and the break neck speed at which everything happens doesn’t allow you to ever collect your thoughts.
The third act of the film is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen on screen. To even try and explain what happens is pointless, it really needs to be seen. What can be said is that mother! steadily pushes the action, and intensity to nightmarish levels. There is no time to breath as we are whipped around the house’s ever changing dynamics. It’s chaotic, and relentless.
The parallels to Rosemary’s Baby are evident (just look at the two poster’s side by side). And while there is obviously a lot of symbolism to unpack, some is painfully obvious. Character names are dead giveaways in that respect. Once you start to realize the Religious themes and plots, mother! becomes a little less shocking due to its predictability.
mother! will be a challenge for most people, but it’s suppose to be. At the screening it received a standing ovation from some in the audience, and boos from others. This divisiveness has become something of a staple in Aronofsky’s work. mother! is similar to his previous work, notable Black Swan. Only here instead of the main character being driven to madness, here madness is driven over her. The only helpful piece of advice I can give is to take some time after you watch mother! before deciding if you liked it or not. mother! does not lend itself to the instant review. I’m still not sure.