How the hell do I start this one…
mother! follows a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her husband (Javier Bardem) within the isolated setting of their country home. Named only as ‘her’ and ‘Him’; we learn that their seemingly quiet lifestyle consists of her fulfilling her active duties as a housewife, whilst Him is a recognized poet currently going through a severe period of writers block. The tranquillity is soon interrupted by a strange guest (Ed Harris) known only as ‘Man’, not long thereafter he is joined by his eccentric wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) who -you guessed it- is named ‘Woman’. Panic, delirium, and absolute chaos ensues as life takes many crazy and metaphorical turns.
The films of Darren Aronofsky are marmite – you either love them or you hate them. I’m’ one of those people who dares to try it every time it’s offered but it doesn’t’ end well in 95% of case’s. And you know what – this time, I just don’t bloody know how I feel about it! I’ve read many reviews attempting to ease my confusion but with moderate success; I think this highlights the exact plight of the film; too many questions. Every piece of action has a meaning which makes it interesting, but when you have so much action, there becomes top much meaning to decipher.
Symbolic imagery starts with beating hearts slowly turning to stone within the house walls or being flushed down the toilet; a woman’s love that is ever present but being destroyed the more she gets pushed away. ‘Him’ seemingly ignores what she wants in favour of what he believes is the right thing to do, such as having all these weird people staying at their house; a selfish stroking of a mans’ ego.
As we digress further into the narrative, ‘Him’ shifts himself back into public knowledge with some new literature. In doing this he ends up attracting some sort of obsessive cult that see him as ‘The One’. Eventually the cult take over and encompass the entire house, there is even one scene where they all line up to be marked upon the head by ‘Him’; a depiction that seems to suggest a reflection of Jesus and his followers. It only got crazier from here…
I cant’ summise all of the next scenes; there was simply so much displayed but I can only describe it as an apocalypse. The cult destroy every fragment over the house and start a full on riot with ‘her’ knocked and stampeded on. (I should say she is heavily pregnant at this point) As her house becomes an apocalyptic maze, we see the riot police eventually turn into the FBI; who eventually turn into the Marines which sees the house eventually turn into a war zone.
At this point of the film, I had my confused face on because I couldn’t’ quite believe what I was watching. In my opinion, I see it as a portrayal of Judgment Day as it coincides with ‘her’ going into labour about to deliver the offspring of ‘Him’. Again drawing the question – is ‘Him’ a depiction of good or evil? ‘Its’ evident that Aronofsky’s focus point is of biblical metaphors but so many interpretations can be drawn from this; which shows itself as a point of beauty but also as a downfall for many.
The majority of the film is shot directly either from Lawrences’ perspective or directly on her face; to heighten audience tension and the claustrophobic nature of the setting. Lawrence had a big role to fill as her character is so oppressed, yet is placed in the most exaggerated circumstances. Personally, I don’t think she lived up to the role as most are proclaiming. I felt that her and Bardem had no on-screen chemistry and perhaps the film may have benefitted from an actress a couple of years older. (I’m aware they are meant to be a couple with an age difference) On the other hand, Bardem was electrifying. He created a performance that made us debate whether we trusted him as a villain or a good guy. Special mention to Michelle Pfeiffer who nailed the sexualised, confident temptress who doesn’t care’ what she say’s and who to.
There’s no denying that a smart storyline is ambitious and will always score big if delivered correctly. Some may say Aronofsky’s gamble has paid off but I think his ambition has slightly gotten the best of him with mother!. The mainstream audience are left so baffled, you have to consider; – do they actually want to put the effort in to finding out the answers to all of these questions? I’d say probably not. The smaller percentage of us who wish to decipher the puzzle will try to find the answers and we will agree or disagree. I think I’m 60% disagree on this one, it’s just too much, even for my analytical mind.
Aronofsky’s previous work has also divided audiences but this is exactly what he thrives off of and his latest work has just become the master of his manipulation. Long story short – if you like reading into movies and enjoy deconstructing layered plots, then perhaps give it a try. If all of the above has completely boggled you, don’t waste 2 hours sitting through the visual version