First things first, this film will not be for everyone, and the reviews streaming out from critics might
have already turned you off stepping foot into theatres. It’s definitely not an easy watch, but
mother! carves out the biggest case this year for how cinema can be misunderstood as being
rubbish rather than being less accessible than others.
The film stars Jennifer Lawrence & Javier Bardem as a couple living in an isolated house who are
‘challenged’ when a stranger comes and asks to stay with them. Then his wife turns up, causing
more tension between the two central characters ‘mother’ and ‘Him’ (nobody has names in this
film) and all hell starts to break lose. The synopsis is deliberately short and I’d advise reading
much else about it so you can get lost in Darren Aronofsky’s tale, because you will get lost very
quickly. As the story unfolds, you get further and further away from sanity, reason & any chance of
an ending for those that live in reality, where trying to rely on logic to explain things will only
disappoint you further.
You’ll probably be questioning the sheer hype about how disturbing Aronofsky’s mysterious
psychological-horror is, especially in the first half, but the only way of describing it is that ‘it goes off
on one’. The first half of Mother! plays out fairly straightforward, whereas the last act takes you on
an insane rollercoaster reason enough to see why people have been walking out of theatres
around the world.
For a while, I turned to classic horror features like the supernatural to try and explain what was
going on, but the relationship of the strangers to Bardem’s character never answered my theory
fully and was swiftly screwed up and thrown away. Then I started relying on the whole film being a
metaphor for what a mother goes through, but again the twists and turns of the story throw you
right off course. The less I tried to reason with the film, the less I worried about the weirdest story
I’d every seen and the more I could enjoy the cinematography and incredible performances by
Lawrence & Bardem. Lawrence especially had the camera very close to her face for over 75% of
the film, meaning you were intensely with her through all these strange turns, and the fact that the
story does bounce around means you have to rely on things like the gorgeously contrasting shots
of peace and chaos, or the incredibly overpowering attack on all of your senses. You’ll either revel
in this blast of lights and sounds, or instantly hate it.
It’s hard to talk about this film without spoiling anything, but you should go in without knowing
anything. As soon as you come out, go and read what Darren Aronofsky’s said about his vision
and see how close it matches with your theories. After doing so, I instantly started making sense
of most of the elements of the film and I’m now desperate to go back for a second viewing. The
director has meticulously carved out so many metaphors and hidden gems that sews his story
together, but not being on the same page is possibly the biggest downfall of the movie and is the
reason that many have felt alienated by the content. Keeping the synopsis so short and not even
hinting at the source material means that as a viewer you need to be on your toes and really think
about what’s going on, but as massive blockbusters inviting you to be a spectator at the cinema
it’s become the norm to switch off and just enjoy. Aronofsky’s implores the exact opposite.
By the end of this film you’ll need both a lie down and a link to cute puppies on YouTube. If you
love films to be unconventional, daring and downright weird, go and see this film. If you want to
be challenged and question everything you’re seeing, this will be right down your street. mother!
will be talked about for years to come for its bullish approach to filmography, so embrace it while