REVIEW: You’re Going to Either Love or Hate ‘Mother!’

You may be familiar with some of Darren Aronofsky’s popular psychological dramas, such as Black Swan or Requiem for a Dream. Mother!, Aronofsky's latest film, takes psychological dramas to a new level, and people are having mixed feelings about it.

The film follows an unnamed married couple (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) living in a secluded, Victorian house that the wife dedicates her time to improving. The husband is a known writer, struggling to work on his newest piece.

The couple’s simple life quickly is disturbed when a stranger (Ed Harris) shows up at their house, thinking it’s a bed and breakfast. The husband invites him to stay, feeling inspired as the stranger is a fan of his work. Soon after, the stranger’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and then their two sons join the house and various disputes begin to unfold, which the wife (Lawrence) has to endure.

Photo Credit: The New York Times

After watching Mother!, I left the theater understanding why the film had so many mixed reviews from critics. It was violent, confusing, and sometimes overdone. Aronofsky’s film has been addressed as an allegory for stories such as the Bible, climate change, and modern-day fame. And while it was interesting to see the movie illustrate a larger and familiar story, I often had to ask myself at the end of some dramatic scenes, “really?”

But despite the violent and overstated scenes, the film had qualities that I truly enjoyed. All performances, but specifically those from Lawrence and Pfeiffer, are real. Their performances make the audience feel like they are confined to this house and are experiencing each bit of madness that Lawrence faces. Additionally, the camera is restricted to handheld shots, subjective to Lawrence, really placing viewers inside the mania.

While I did sometimes feel that the metaphors were excessive, the idea that the film was able to represent various stories was fascinating to me. It is one of those movies that I would like to see a second or even third time because there are many complex features that are easy to miss. Though it is hard to understand each specific part during an initial viewing, it still had me leaving the theater thinking over everything I had just watched in the last two hours, which is always a good feeling.

Photo Credit: Variety

If you’re looking for a traditional horror or thriller that follows a standard narrative, then I don’t recommend Mother! as the next movie for you to check out in theaters. However, Mother! is not a film to be overlooked by audiences. Although it may leave you with a disorienting feeling, it is worth entering Aronofsky’s metaphoric world. You’ll leave the movie believing that everything happened, yet nothing happened at all -- and that’s part of the imaginative beauty that makes the Mother! worth seeing.

 

Cover Photo Credit: Vox