A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. From filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer in this riveting psychological thriller about love, devotion and sacrifice.’.
****The review portion of this will be completely spoiler-free, but I will get into some spoilers below the grade. I highly recommend seeing this movie before looking up any kind of spoilers to get your own interpretation of what the film is trying to say.****
mother! is directed by Darren Aronofsky and stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. Since this film debuted at TIFF a few days ago it has been called jaw-dropping, awful, bizarre and everything in-between. My opinion of mother! lends itself to the more positive side, but in all honesty having just left the theater I’m still trying to put the pieces together of everything that I just saw. This is something that I expect myself to be doing for quite a long time. I don’t know if I will ever quite find myself satisfied with my level of understanding of this film.
Imagine you are at a fancy restaurant and you are brought a new dish to try….at first bite you are a bit put off by its taste but with every new bite you begin to enjoy it more and more and then just like that you’re out and you get no more, but the taste still lingers. This is about the best metaphor that I can use to describe mother. The beginning is a bit clunky and dry. As it goes on this dryness is abandoned and the plot drips with intensity. With about half an hour left in the film someone kicks the bucket and that drip becomes an absolute downpour.
mother! is constantly trying to reassure you that everything is fine, but just as you’re about to believe that as true…everything once again becomes out of control. The film shuts down several times and then hits the gas throwing you back against the wall again. Once you think you put all of the pieces together, the puzzle is knocked off the table and it’s time to start again. This I believe is very much Aronofsky’s intention. For this he succeeds, and you must keep guessing even after you have left the theater.
Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence both do great work here. Lawerence is really outstanding as the film is mostly seen through her eyes. When I say “through her eyes” I mean it. I tried to count the amount of eyeline matches her character has but lost count after the first half an hour of the film. The camera follows her through most of the movie and she flourishes in front of it. I see an Oscar nomination in her future, that’s if the academy isn’t put off by the severe strangeness of this film.
A lot of people probably will hate the mother! and I think that is okay. It’s not matter of “you just don’t understand it and that’s why you don’t like it!” either. There’s so many things that go on that are just so shocking that they will put many audience members off and again that’s understandable. One thing is for sure, mother! is the kind of film that invites you to figure it out. It wants you to try and understand it. This is the kind of film that will be the subject of numerous essays by film scholars as the years go on. I’m still a bit speechless about it, who knows if I or anyone for that matter will ever find the right words to describe it.
Below is my interpretation of some of the characters in the film which does include mild spoilers. If you do plan to see the film at any point, I’d highly recommend reading these after.
To make this brief, here is what I think:
- Javier Bardem is God probably….evident when he says things like “we must forgive them” and this and that
- Jennifer Lawrence is either mother earth (most likely) or the Virgin Mary I think there is evidence to both sides for example they are destroying her house which would be the earth and for the other side she says that Javier Bardem’s character won’t have sex with her meaning that she is a virgin?? maybe I’m reaching there
- The baby could quite possible be Jesus and his dying would be like him being crucified again maybe I’m reaching
- There is also a fairly obvious Cain and Abel reference between the two brothers
What do you think? How did you interpret mother?
(If you want to discuss spoilers in the comments please mark them as such!)