Darren Aronofsky has made wild and disturbing films before. I don’t think I will ever sit down and watch Requiem For A Dream (2000) ever again no matter that I thought it was a powerful film. But his latest, Mother! (more exclamation points needed) is the craziest and most disturbing of all. Sometimes this can be a good thing. In this case, it was not.
A Poet with writer’s block (Javier Bardem) puts a crystal object on the shelf and a house takes shape. A woman forms under the covers in the bed. It’s his young Wife (Jennifer Lawrence). They live in a fixer upper in the middle of the woods. A Stranger shows up (Ed Harris). The Poet allows him to stay. A woman shows up (Michelle Pfieffer), apparently, the Stranger’s wife. All of this is baffling to the Poet’s Wife.
One thing leads to another, their two sons show up and fight leading to the death of one of them (Cain and Abel?). People start showing up for a wake because the Poet said it was the only human thing to do. These people start tearing up the house and acting odd driving the Wife crazy. One thing leads to another and the Poet and his Wife have sex. Voila! She’s pregnant! Eureka! The Poet’s writers block is gone! He starts writing which makes the Wife happy. Voila! His book is published! The Wife prepares a great meal to celebrate when, suddenly, more people start showing up! The Poet says they just want to show their appreciation of him, they’re his fans, its ok then they start taking over the house and then……phew! It really gets weird.
Obviously, this isn’t meant to be ‘real’. It’s allegorical. There are a lot of bible references in here, Adam and Eve, Caine and Abel and such. My initial reaction was, at first, bored. Then, intrigued. Who are these strangers showing up out of nowhere? What are they going to do? Then “oh, none of this is going to make any sense, is it?”
It seemed to me to be an allegory about the ‘artist’ which I assumed was Aronofsky writing about himself. What he must go through to create and the toll it takes on his relationships and his surroundings, his life. The Poet is a complete egotistical beast who puts his wife through the ringer. Jennifer Lawrence’s character gets completely terrorized, abused and worse by the end of the film. I found it disturbing and the whole exercise unnecessary. I appreciated the performances, all the actors went for it. The photography was beautiful, the filmmaking audacious. Fine. But I didn’t enjoy the film or would consider it a very good film. Aronofsky has made better. All the actors have been in better films.
But I’ll be honest, I’m not big on the abstract. I read an interview with Aronofsky where he describes the film as a biblical allegory about the environment. OK. But that isn’t how it came off to me. It was more as if Rosemary’s Baby (1968) had happened in the middle of Blake Edward’s The Party (1968) then took a left turn onto the set of Full Metal Jacket (1987) then tag on the ending of The Devil’s Advocate (1997). Now you’re starting to get the picture?
It’s thought provoking. It induces conversation along with nausea.