I saw mother! the other week and am still struggling to process not only my thoughts on it, but also my words. This might not be the most coherent of reviews but that says as much about the film as it does my terrible skill as a film critic. Honest.
A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
This film has definitely received a mixed bag of reviews since it opened and that is completely understandable. It personally pissed me off and reading up on its meaning in Darren Aronofsky‘s own words just made me cringe even harder. (I leave this to you to do at your leisure, it’s worth a laugh).
I’m generally a fan of his films and went into this with no expectations, other than to be wowed once more. The thing is, it’s not pure rubbish. It starts well, looks great, coaxes a decent performance out of JLaw who doesn’t always do it for me – and I was all in, even when it took such a surreal turn that you wonder if they accidentally spliced it with a completely different film.
And then the end, man. It turns so utterly violent and hateful that I almost walked out. It reminded me of a film I couldn’t finish because it contained a scene so violent that I instantly burst into tears. No reveals about the ending of mother!, I promise but let’s just say it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
From the beginning, tension mounts as visitor upon visitor begin to arrive on the doorstep of an ageing but distinguished poet (Javier Bardem) and his much younger wife’s beautiful home. The house itself has been lovingly rebuilt from the inside out by JLaw’s character Mother after a fire tore through it in her husband’s childhood.
She wafts prettily around the house in beige cardigans, painting interiors and pandering to her self-absorbed other half. When first Ed Harris and then Michelle Pfeiffer rock up, Mother becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the unexpected company (do not blame her). Her husband, however, thrives under their adoring gazes especially when it is revealed that Ed Harris is a super fan. The Poet is struggling with writer’s block and is delighted with the distraction.
Mother is outraged when he invites the new couple to stay for as long as they like at the house without consulting her. Not that she says boo to a goose because that is so not her style.
Bit by bit the house is invaded by more and more people, including the two warring sons of Ed and Michelle, and things take a very dark turn indeed. Throughout this event and beyond, Mother becomes more and more invisible to her husband and those around her. She eventually has to scream at the top of her lungs to be heard. Things appear to change when she becomes pregnant with a long-awaited baby and her husband, inspired by this miracle, finally nails his masterpiece.
All can go back to normal at last, right? Except this is an Aronofsky flick and you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?
The Poet quickly reverts back to his self-adoring ways and he’s not the only one who digs him. The house fills up once again and Mother loses her grip. Things get even worse when the baby is born.
(During this entire film, it should be noted, Mother has been experiencing a strange physical reaction to the house, whilst necking a mysterious elixir). What the fuck does it all mean and how will this end?
At best I think this is an interesting piece of film that doesn’t leave you easily. But I don’t understand the point of the message. I took from the film that our mate Darren is passing comment on what women go through, all they give and how they are treated in return. But, like, we all know that already right? Why make a film to raise awareness of how tough it is to be a woman? Especially when you’re a man?
If you read his take it goes much deeper (and ridiculous) than that but I guess he knows better than anyone what he’s saying. I just, well I wanted more for the central character and the film. It’s pretentious, laughable in places and ultimately unsatisfying and I hate the ending.