Running time: 2 hours 1 minute
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Mother! is a film I have been increasingly curious to see, and increasingly concerned about what to expect. My worries were that it would be too long, too arty, too convoluted. After watching Mother! I can reassure you that it is not what you expect it to be. However, it is slightly too long, too arty and too convoluted.
Jennifer Lawrence gives what has become a standard Jennifer Lawrence performance in recent years- she is a little wooden- but she does give the role credit in the second half, although I fear the only two emotions I’ve seen her play is either dead pan or despair. Also- why is every shot featuring Lawerence either extreme close or extreme wide?!
The shining lights of Mother! are without a doubt Michelle Pfeiffer and Domnhall Gleeson. They inject life into an otherwise very dry cast, their performances probably the only enjoyable aspect of this film.
That isn’t to say that the film is necessarily bad, it is just not a pleasant or an easy watch. And if you thought the Biblical undertones were going to be subtle- think again. The whole first act of the film is very obviously the book of Genesis, only Eden is an old wooden house. Together, the artist and his wife have created their own paradise, untouched by anyone- until the arrival of Ed Harris, Mother!‘s answer to Adam. The artists wife wakes up to find her husband covering the visitors bleeding scar above his rib, and before you know it, Michelle Pfeiffer arrives the next day- his devoted wife, and our Eve.
Without giving away any spoilers, what follows is the forbidden fruit, which when taken, the artists response is to lock away his office and exclaim ‘They will never get in here again!’, just as God banished Adam and Eve from Eden. Then the allegoric Cain and Abel arrive in the form of Domhnall and Brian Gleeson- and more and more people descend into this paradise, bringing chaos- painting the walls and breaking the fixtures- until surprise! The sink collapses, and the ensuing ‘flood’ sees them all away. moremore
The second act of the film is much more open to interpretation. The artists wife is heavily pregnant, and he has now released an incredibly successful piece of writing. Crazed fans throng the house, and things take a very epic turn- swat teams invade the house, survival shelters, fire bombs explode. Of course, the Biblical references are still coming thick and fast. Here we are dealing with the New Testament, right from the birth of Jesus, to a very twisted version of the Holy Eucharist.
The film is quite blatant in some aspects of its symbolism- the roles each character represents, the house as Eden, the artists wife as Mother Earth, and the destruction brought upon her by humanity. However, the religious commentary in the film isn’t as clear- does Aronofsky want to portray God as selfish, attention seeking and careless? Or does he blame the human condition for ruining what God has created for us? Or is he showing the destruction of Mother Nature, as the title of the film suggests, and just using the Biblical stories to do this? I am not even sure that he knows.
It was clearly Aronofsky’s intention to fill Mother! with underlining meanings and allegories. However I did think it was a shame to take the film down this route- the premise of a rural house, invaded by strangers claiming to have mistaken it for a Bed and Breakfast was really quite intriguing- and the first act was even creepy enough to get me jumping out of my seat a couple of times. It could have been an effective, simplistic horror if it wanted- but that unfortunately wasn’t the direction that Aronofsky wanted to take.
The film is definitely interesting. Go and watch it if you want to be baffled, if you like arty, interpretive films. However, if you’re not a film buff, you probably won’t enjoy it. The general consensus on the lips of the people coming out of the cinema I saw Mother! in was that they had wasted two hours watching the film. But don’t let the negative reviews scare you off. If you’re curious, go and watch it. I’m glad I did.