A Mother of a Movie

The new movie “Mother!” hit theaters on September 15, and since then people haven’t stopped talking about it. Immediately, critics and fans gave the movie bad reviews. In fact, it is the 12th movie in film history to receive an “F” CinemaScore from audiences. Even renowned film critic Caryn James called it a “pretentious mess of a film.”

I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Who does this chick think she is, trying to say educated, prominent film critics are wrong and so is the majority of the public?” Walking out of the theater, and scrolling through social media, I realized that most people just didn’t understand the movie. Those that did just didn’t like its message. So, without spoiling the movie, here’s what “Mother!” is all about, why it’s important and why everyone else is just wrong.

The movie as a whole is an allegory. For what, I’m not going to say because I don’t want to ruin it for you. But, if you’re just analyzing sequences of the movie and not analyzing it as a whole, then the movie doesn’t make sense. That’s kindof the point.

Biblical, cultural, nature-related and historical references are made throughout the film. Allusions and symbolism riddle the movie as well. That being said, I sort of understand why Caryn James says the movie is pretentious. The director relies heavily on the hope that his audience knows what his breadcrumbs mean. But how many people understand the spiritual and symbolic meaning of frogs? If you haven’t been educated or intrinsically interested in these topics then chances are you don’t get the reference. It’s one more thing that doesn’t make sense to most people.

So, before you watch the movie it would be wise to do your research. Specifically, I saw a lot of allusions to famous Christian bible stories and environmentalism in 2017.

Also do your research on the director. I think it’s important to research any director of a non-stereotypical Hollywood film. Researching helps set your expectations and understanding of the film, which is something a lot of critics and audience members didn’t do. Aronofsky is known for grand films with deeper meanings, allegories and overarching themes, so this movie isn’t something that people shouldn’t have expected.

It’s important to note that Aronofsky was also the director of “Black Swan,” which people were paralleling with Jennifer Lawrence’s role. Film critics were mentioning that this movie could be her “Black Swan” moment. I truly think it was that moment for her because her acting was inspiring. I had been ambivalent toward her as an actress, but this is the best, most unusual role she’s ever played.

Lawrence is still the strong female lead she was in movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” but her character in this movie demands so much more. At the beginning of the movie she is a demure, obedient housewife. But, once the plot is full of twists and turns, we see Lawrence like we’ve never seen her before. We see her go from unhappy to blissed out and from glowing to beaten down. Most of her roles have range, but this character was darker than others she’s played. Plus, the content and the storyline is much darker than any movie I’ve seen her in before.

What was also dark about this movie was her relationship with her husband. Even though this is only somewhat related to the overall plot, their relationship is an example of gaslighting. She spends every day making their house, which was the house her husband grew up in, a better home for them while he sits in his office trying to be a writer. He manipulated her to staying at home renovating his childhood house only for him to invite strangers to stay in it and contradict everything she says in front of them. He doesn’t treat her like an equal partner and ends up using her in every way. (If this reminds you of a relationship you’re in then I suggest you end it.)

Last but not least, I’m not usually one to do this, but I want to give a trigger warning for anyone with anxiety. I don’t personally have anxiety but I felt like I did watching the movie. The movie is predominantly comprised of close-ups of the characters’ faces. You feel what they feel, you’re in their personal space and their emotions become your emotions. I almost felt claustrophobic and found myself wishing I could grab the camera and zoom out. However, it is pertinent to the film, so I can’t complain.

I will cap my commentary there to avoid any spoilers! It is truly a great movie, but it takes time to figure it out. I suggest going with a friend and quietly whispering about what you think could happen next. Or, wait for it to become rentable so you can google and talk throughout the movie without interrupting it for others. Definitely make sure to watch it more than once so you can pick up on the clues you may have missed the first time.