Illustration by Mia Turner
You are either going to love or hate this movie. That’s the sad truth, but every single person I’ve talked to has unequivocally hated this movie. It has received an F from CinemaScore and a 45 percent on the audience score from Rotten Tomatoes. It’s slow, boring, claustrophobic, and it’s pretty pretentious in its themes and metaphors. However, all of these things also make the movie brilliant. I’ve debated in my head whether this was a masterpiece or a masterfully terrible piece of garbage, and I’ve landed somewhere on the more positive side. Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is one crazy ride, but it is one everyone should ultimately take.
First things first, this is not a really a horror movie. Don’t believe the marketing. I understand why they marketed it this way because there is no other way to make this movie sound interesting. There are a few jump scares, some definitely horrific and disturbing images, but don’t watch this if you’re looking for a scarefest.
The movie takes place in an isolated home, inhabited by a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her much older husband (Javier Bardem). Suddenly, strange guests start arriving at their house, and they won’t leave. Things eventually descend into total chaos, while exploring biblical and environmental allegories.
Like everything else in this movie, the acting is crazy. Jennifer Lawrence gives one of the best performances of her career. The movie never leaves her side — she is in every shot. Lawrence is the best part of the movie; her performance is almost cathartic as she starts reserved and timid but eventually expresses all of her rage in an epic closing scene.
Another standout is Michelle Pfeiffer as Woman. She plays one of the worst houseguests in history and is so conniving and intrusive in the way she acts that it almost makes me like her.
The subject matter of this movie is what really makes it interesting. I found myself liking the movie more as I talked about it, rather than when I was actually in the movie theater. While watching the movie, I was preoccupied with wondering what this movie meant, as it throws a lot of images at you that seem to come from nowhere. However, there was a point where everything came together, and I started to understand what Aronofsky was going for. Even after I got what was going on, the movie kept going to crazier places, and I never really knew what to expect. mother! definitely feels like it belongs in an art house theater, and that is probably why it did so poorly at the box office. People hated this movie because they didn’t get what they expected, but I still don’t think that makes it a bad movie. This same phenomena has plagued other art house, quasi-horror films this year, such as It Comes At Night.
Everything feels like a fever dream in mother! and for good reason. Writer and director Darren Aronofsky wrote this movie in a span of five days. I can tell that he had a lot of emotions to get out and a lot of feelings and ideas he wanted to express. I don’t think I’d ever want to watch this movie again, but I am glad I experienced it. Everyone is going to be talking about this movie. So do see it, even if it’s not the masterpiece people were expecting it to be.