I’ll begin by saying that my own opinions on the works of director Darren Aronofsky are…specific.
I like Noah and Black Swan, I hate Pi and The Fountain, and I love Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler. Some of Aronofsky’s films make viewers realize why he was informally named the David Lynch of his generation, others make a person scratch her head and think, “I…uh…what?”
Like his counterpart Lynch, Aronofsky is polarizing to mainstream audiences, and Mother! is no exception. As of now, Mother! has a 75 rating on Metacritic and a 69 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, both of which are determined by critics’ reviews, but it also has the dubious distinction of being the latest of 17 films to achieve an F on CinemaScore, which is taken by polling audiences coming out of the movie’s first few screenings.
My knee-jerk reaction to Mother! was the same that I felt when I first saw the late Tobe Hooper’s space vampire classic Lifeforce: I don’t know what’s happening here, but I want to see where it’s going.
Spoilers: Where Mother! was going was total frickin’ insanity.
It starts out normally enough: A young woman, whom the credits call Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her far older husband Him (Javier Bardem), a famed poet, in a quiet, abandoned country house that she rebuilt herself. But trouble arrives in the form of the Man (Ed Harris) and his wife the Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), who berates Mother for her lack of children. It is exactly here where I stop describing the plot, because anything else would be giving away the whole movie.
Let’s just say that the ending, which is the source of most criticism from the film’s deriders, could have been far more tasteless, exploitative and altogether awful in the hands of a different director. It’s a mix of allegory, striking imagery and criticism of certain institutions, all of which Aronofsky conducts to a genuinely disturbing climax.
Mother! has been called a psychological horror thriller, and that’s accurate. The whole film is a study of humanity’s primal fears, and there are many things here that disturb, frighten and straight-up induce nightmares. This isn’t something for people with weak stomachs.
I still don’t know if I like Mother! or not. But, my God, is it memorable!
It’s a well-made, suspenseful and thought-provoking piece of work. Unless you’re easily bothered by violence, I advise you to go – if only to fully witness the film for which Darren Aronofsky will be remembered and revered for.
[Photo credit: IMDB]