In the world of cinema, there are many cookie-cutter films; but Mother! definitely isn’t one of them. From the mind that brought us Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, comes the story of a married couple that has to deal with taking care of uninvited guests, which becomes a test for their relationship. No, this is not a horror film in the way the trailer paints it out to be. It’s something much more. Darren Aronofsky’s bold film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Aronofsky’s script is one that should definitely not be taking literally. It’s an intense premise that takes place in the couple’s home and everyone and everything that happens is a metaphor or allegory for something much bigger. There are plenty of Biblical reflections in the film, and an equal amount of social commentary. It’s not a perfect script, but it is without a doubt a piece that has a powerful voice.
Aronofsky crafts scenes that are horrific and very expressive of what he thinks about certain elements and topics in life. He does not hold back, not one bit. Mother, the unnamed protagonist, takes it upon herself to deal with the atrocities in her home, giving her all to take care of it and her husband. It is filmed completely from Mother’s perspective, using three shots: over the shoulder, point of view, and close-up. This allows us connect to Mother in a very intimate way, as we watch her innocence deteriorate.
Jennifer Lawrence gives a riveting, powerful performance as Mother. All she wants to do is care for her home and inspire her husband to create. Everything she truly wants to do is out of pure love, and we can see that through Lawrence’s performance. Even when she’s distressed and cast aside, her love streams through. However, it’s just never enough. She’s crushed by selfishness and ignorance until she is given no other choice, but to get out. If you haven’t guessed already, Lawrence’s character is a representation of Mother Nature.
Javier Bardem does a tremendous job as the accommodating, righteous “Him” that is maniacally obsessed with writing poetry that touches people. “Him” is a representation of God or The Creator. Bardem opens his arms to the strangers in his home, yet is ignorant to the needs of Mother Nature, just as humanity is. The relationship of Mother and Him is defined in one line towards the end of the film that is delivered perfectly by Lawrence.
Mother! personifies Mother Nature, and shows us how we treat her like she doesn’t matter. It’s also a reflection of the selfish, greedy nature of mankind, which plays interestingly with the notion that God created man from his image; but, to what extent? Here, The Creator yearns to be adored and is never satisfied. Sound familiar? Mother! shows us the cyclical nature of mankind. It’s not a film that says nothing, it’s a film that says a variety of things, and sometimes that comes through as white noise.
This is not a film for everyone, and I understand how it can be a polarizing movie. Some will say this is pretentious garbage, but others will be affected by the director’s bold vision. Aronofsky wraps up his thoughts and delivers it with a pretty hefty sledgehammer, but people still won’t listen. Maybe it’s in our nature. If Aronofsky is right, we may be doomed to an apocalyptic conclusion no matter how much we learn about ourselves.