Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Movie Review: MOTHER!

Sometimes you come across a film that you know almost nothing about, and it knocks your socks off with just how deep it really is.  Mother! is that film for me.  I saw the first teaser and the first trailer for this film, but still had no clue what it was really about.  My first assumption was that it was some sort of horror movie, which it’s really not.  If anything, it’s more of a thriller than anything else.  I had also heard that the trailers for this movie are very misleading and that the film isn’t what you expect, so going in I was able to alter my expectations and go in with an almost clear slate, truly not knowing what to expect.  And that, I believe, was the best possible thing that could have happened for me.

As I watched the film, the crazy nature of the plot kept me intrigued, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around what exactly was happening.  I followed along, waiting for some sort of hint, and as I think back on it, the hints were there, just expertly hidden right in plain sight by master filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.  But it wasn’t just the crazy plot that hooked me, but also Aronofsky’s unique filming style.  The tracking shots that moved in strange ways with the characters, the extreme and sometimes sudden close ups…it all added to the creepy tension of the film.  It made me uneasy throughout, but in a good way.  I never felt comfortable with these characters.  I never was able to just sit back and relax with the story as I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on, and why these strange people were acting the way they were.

And speaking of strange people acting, I loved the performances in this film.  Jennifer Lawrence played the mild-manned, dutiful housewife perfectly.  It was great watching as she grew more and more unnerved by the events that took place.  Her poet-husband was played by the extremely talented Javier Bardem.  His unwavering kindness, mixed with bouts of anger and frustration really drove the unnerving nature of the events taking place.  And then we have the uninvited house guests, played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer.  It doesn’t take long for the audience to distrust these two characters.  They have a strange fascination with Bardem’s character, which causes Lawrence’s character to really distrust their motives for being there.  This leads to some insane, yet awe-inspiring events to take place.

At this point in the review I’m going to start diving more into spoiler territory, so if you don’t want the film to be spoiled for you, stop now, and just know that this is a deep and fascinating story, and you should definitely check it out.  Ok, now on to the rest!


As you may have noticed, throughout my review I never referred to any character by their name.  Well, there’s a simple explanation for that – they had no names.  In fact, even in the credits you won’t find any names.  Jennifer Lawrence is credited as “Mother”, while Javier Bardem is simply credited as “Him”, and that right there is a big clue as to what is going on in the film.

For those who didn’t pick up on it, Mother! is a two-hour biblical allegory, spanning from genesis all the way to revelations.  The first two acts play it out in a very subtle fashion, hiding behind the guise of a thriller, but once the third act hits, all bets are off, and if you hadn’t figured it out by then, Aronofsky attempts to hit you in the face with it, connecting the dots in a most chaotic fashion.  It’s beauty and art in motion; it’s a film that forces you to think, and if that is something you are unwilling or incapable of doing, than the film just won’t resonate with you.  Also, if you’re not very familiar with the stories of the Bible, then you may not pick up on some of the more nuanced details in the film.

We see the creation of paradise amongst the darkness (rebuilding the house, referred to as a “paradise”, after a devastating fire), the introduction of Adam and Eve (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer), the Garden of Eden (Bardem’s office), the Forbidden Apple (the crystal), Cain killing his brother, Abel (the two brothers played by Domhnall and Brian Gleeson), the Great Flood (the burst pipe), the birth and death of Jesus Christ (Lawrence and Bardem’s miracle baby and the extremely disturbing death scene), and so much more.  It’s such a fascinating take on the stories in the Bible, and as a non-Christian who has actually read the Bible, I was able to appreciate what Aronofsky was doing without being offended in any way.  It’s a chilling interpretation that will stick with me for a while. 

Now, no film is without any flaws, and there are a few in this fantastic film.  Some of the things that took place were more unclear for me, such as the beating heart whenever Mother had a panic attack.  The only thing I could think of is that it’s the “beating heart” of nature itself, which, as Mother Gaia, she would obviously want to connect with when panicked.  But that is really just a guess.  Also, I have no clue what the yellow powder is she was drinking to calm herself.  If it were a normal film, I would say it was just some random medication to settle her nerves, but this is far from normal, and I can’t think of anything it would be.

I will absolutely watch this again, and will hopefully be able to appreciate it even more, knowing what’s going on, and being able to catch the little nuances throughout.  I definitely recommend everyone checking this film out for themselves.  You may love it, you may hate it, you may have no clue what you just watched, but this is one of those films that, I personally think, everyone needs to experience.

The Merc’s Score:  9/10

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