“Mother!” is a movie that, well, it’s about, well...
You know what? I’ve been a film critic for 11 years and during that time, very few movies have left me at a loss for words. “Mother!” is one of them.
Writer/director Darren Aronofsky has always dabbled with the darker side of humanity in his films and characters that focus on obsessions. “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan” come to mind. However, I don’t think anything has even remotely approached what he has crafted with this thriller that is a truly audacious Rorschach test. If Kubrick and Cormac McCarthy had a child, “Mother!” would be the offspring.
It stars Jennifer Lawrence as the eponymous title character and Javier Bardem costars as her husband simply known as Him. She’s busy renovating their old house while Him is a poet struggling with writer’s block. Their tranquil, domesticated existence is interrupted when a stranger known as Man (Ed Harris) shows up on their doorstep. They welcome Man into their house to stay the night much to Mother’s chagrin.
The next morning, Man’s wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives and the two begin to disrupt nearly every aspect of their lives.
If I tried to describe the story, I would have to delve into spoiler territory with major plot points. And, even if I did, I don’t think audiences would be able to wrap their heads around what Aronofsky is trying to sell them.
“Mother!” is a film that is very heavy on metaphors and symbolism throughout. There’s a great measure of spirituality thrown in, particularly a Cain and Abel parallel. It constantly throws in intriguing elements, even if we don’t quite know what to make of them.
We do a lot of moments of intense, crazy, disturbing, off-the-wall sequences that are totally bonkers, but it never becomes boring. Those disturbing moments are scenes that actually made me care and helped keep the film on its toes, despite its extreme level of bat-crap insanity.
As a movie, is it good? Well, Lawrence and Bardem give some great performances that are on the level of some of their Oscar winning roles.
Harris and Pfeiffer deliver effective supporting work as well. On a technical level, the cinematography is exquisite, thanks to Matthew Libatique and the lack of a musical score makes a lot of sequences feel creepy.
“Mother!” is not going to be for everyone. I’m not sure if it’s for anyone in particular, but in its own way, it’s a movie that will leave you drained, befuddled, disturbed and exhausted on every level.
But you know what? It will leave you thinking about it and talking about it long after it’s over.
Rated R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.