The film "mother!" starring Jennifer Lawrence, was promoted as a horror film, giving viewers an idea of what they were about to see. Having only seen the trailers, I thought I was getting myself into a standard horror film with some jump scares and a scary monster. While "mother!" is correctly labeled a horror film, it's certainly not a typical rendition of one. It's disturbing and uncomfortable in whole new ways. It feels invasive and provocative, and it accomplishes exactly what writer Darren Aronofsky wanted.
For the sake of readers who haven't yet seen the movie, there are spoilers ahead.
The film is essentially a fleshed out allegory of God, mother Earth and mankind. Aronofsky has blatantly stated that the film is a metaphor for climate change and the damage mankind is causing to the planet. Although this is what Aronofsky intended, his audience has taken many different possible meanings from the film – most notably, a feminist one.
The scenery, in less terrifying moments, is a beautiful house in the country that Lawrence's character takes great pride in restoring after it burned down. The entire movie is set in the house, and every shot is filmed from Lawrence's point of view. We follow her through room after room as the movie seems to change from her peaceful bliss to her worst nightmare as she walks through each doorway. Three main shots were utilized during filming – an over the shoulder from behind Lawrence, a direct point of view and an up close on Lawrence's face, Aronofsky said.
This movie is not for the faint of heart. Watching a woman’s heart break in every way possible is not easy to bear, but when the audience realizes she represents the world we inhabit, it hits home even harder. The audience realizes, all of mankind are the antagonists. Violence, brutality, selfishness and death all plague Lawrence as she gives a memorable performance as a superb actress.
Aronofsky has created a mind bending, twisted Biblical allegory that has confused and even disappointed many viewers.
Javier Bardem is a poet who represents a form of God while Lawrence plays mother earth. We see both of them interact as husband and wife in a weird manner. Lawrence cleans, protects and fixes the house while Bardem struggles to work on his next work of poetry.
An unexpected guest comes onto the scene, Ed Harris, who represents Adam. We see several small clues as to who he is throughout the film. We get a glimpse of a wound on his side then the next day we meet his wife played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
Michelle Pfeiffer enters shortly after Harris as his wife and represents Eve. She's a curious, selfish woman who, along with Adam, begin the movie's descent into chaos. Lawrence's character is cautious of them and does not trust her from the beginning – rightfully so – but Bardem's character is consistently welcoming and forgiving.
There are clues about the allegory that the audience starts to pick up on as the film progresses – Pfeiffer and Harris' sons perhaps are the most obvious as they portray Cain and Abel.
Aronofsky’s message is well thought out and artistically crafted throughout the interactions in the film.
As more and more people enter the film everything slowly goes to hell. Chaos and anarchy begin to reign over the house putting it and Lawrence's character in distress.
The most interesting casting choice was Kristen Wiig as Bardem's publicist. Normally a comedic actress, "mother!" is certainly different for her as you eventually watch her kill people for inspiration for Bardem.
Aronoskfy introduces a new level of fear and empathy for Lawrence's character as she goes into labor and ultimately gives birth to a child, who is soon killed and consumed by mankind.
“mother!” is filled with great acting talent, including a few surprises that were a major draw to the film.
With the crowd the movie attracted, it did not receive great fan ratings. It received an “F” from CinemaScore and currently has a 68 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
I, however, was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole movie wondering where it was going because I had no earthly clue. As soon as the film was over I was captivated with thoughts and ideas that I had to research and discuss immediately.
This is a film definitely worth seeing. With the correct mindset going into the film it can definitely be an enjoyable experience. If you enjoyed movies like “The Prestige” and “Black Swan,” then this is for you.