Darren Aronofsky, the director of the Academy Award winning movie "Black Swan," has finally unveiled his secretive new film, "mother!"
This psychological horror movie is best described as daunting, suspenseful, dynamic and biblically symbolic. "Mother!" is like a puzzle — it is an inexplicable work of horror that is open to various interpretations, thus making it mysterious and compelling, but also confusing. The film’s complexities muddled my thoughts and feeling about its overall context, and as a result, I find myself indifferent toward it. Without a doubt, the audience will find themselves stuck between hating it and loving it.
The film introduces the story with a crying and unnamed woman who appears to be in an inferno. Meanwhile a man, Him (Javier Bardem), places a delicate crystal into a frame that automatically repairs a burnt house into a renovated home. The scene is spontaneously cut to a woman, Mother (Jennifer Lawrence), who rises from bed to find her husband (Bardem). Him is a poet who is struggling creatively, which unsettles the tranquil environment and life that Mother has provided him within their home. This leads to Mother losing control over her sense of reality, and as a result, she begins visualizing a beating heart.
Trouble ensues and that threatens the couple’s equilibrium with the arrival of strangers. One night, an unexpected visitor knocks on the couple’s door and Him eagerly answers it.
Man (Ed Harris) enters the story—he is a doctor who is looking for a place to stay, and is a longtime admirer of Him’s poetry. To Mother’s discomfort, Him offers his home to the stranger. The next day, Man’s brash and abrasive wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), appears along with their two grown sons (Domhall and Brian Gleeson), who get into a brawl over their father’s will that then leads to the sudden fatality of the younger son.
Mother is hesitant to allow these people to enter her home, but Him on the other hand, is eager to. Eventually, more people invade the couple’s home that leads to absolute anarchy.
The movie is a biblical allegory that depicts the rape and torment of Mother Earth. Lawrence symbolically represents Mother Earth—the force of nature and creation—Bardem represents God, and Pfeiffer is Eve to Harris’s Adam, and Domhall and Brian Gleeson represent the unsettling feud of Cain and Abel.
In the last 20 minutes of the film, there are scenes that present an unfavorable perspective of God and Christianity, but there is no specific message that comes with it; it could mean that the director has a disdain toward God and Christianity, or it could mean that people’s beliefs may lead them to insanity.
For example, there are scenes that involve ashes on foreheads of worshippers of Him, and then there is a scene where Him’s publicist conducts brutal executions of vulnerable victims—which may represent the religious-inspired purges. Furthermore, there are scenes that depict people, who are captivated and riveted with Him and his poetic work, that they become irrational and wild—losing all self-control.
Aronofsky’s "mother!" is a confusing and mystifying nightmare. I admire Arononfsky’s work and how he is able to carefully depict psychological chaos. Aronofsky’s script is deliberately underwritten in order to allow the actors to showcase their own emotional connections to one another. Interestingly, each of shots in the film was tightly framed in order to create more drama and tension, and to also allow the audience to feel as if they are inside the movie’s setting.
The acting, design, cinematography and sound are all superb — but I did not find myself in love with plot nor its biblical allusions.
In a sense, the movie is thought provoking, layered with spontaneity, but what makes it dissimilar and yet also difficult to truly like is that the movie is open to many interpretations—there is no specific underlying message. The most difficult part was that the movie had an unsettling ending that truly left me in state of perplexity (I will not reveal any spoilers). It is a metaphorical film with many undertones that do not truly surface. In better words, it is an absurd story about absurdity.
"Mother!" is a film that was intentionally created to be conflict-ridden; it is delirious, confusing, but yet a suspenseful movie. It is a movie that has dazzling cinematography and is drowned in metaphors, as it depicts a writer’s yearning to attain fame and love.