Picture the scene: a slightly crowded cinema watching on in stunned silence as the final frame of Mother! Cuts abruptly to black and the credits began to roll. The lights go back up, the lone person in front of me swivelled his head around to face the rest of the audience with a pained and incredulous bemusement look on his face. Our eyes met, and we looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity a silent understanding passed between us before he mouthed quite clearly – “What. The. Fuck.”
And I could only shake my head and shrug.
“What the fuck” indeed”
What to Expect With Mother!
There was already a fair amout of intrigue behind Mother! generated by the movie’s strange title. It’s vague yet obnoxious trailer that gave away little about the plot. Is it a horror film? A thriller? A home invasion film? All three at once? Given the reputation that director Darren Aronofsky has for unsettlingly dark filmmaking, the consensus was that this wasn’t going to be an easy watch whatever it was.
Boy oh boy was it hard to get through.
For a movie like this, the best way to watch it is to go in totally blind. So I’m somewhat reluctant to give a detailed plot synopsis. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play an unnamed married couple. They live in a giant house in the middle of nowhere and that’s about all we know for sure about them. Barden claims the house was his family home which burned down in a tragic accident before he rebuilt it. There’s also some vague allusions made to the fact that he’s a famous and highly respected poet, trying and failing to write his latest piece. Jennifer Lawrence takes great pride in painting the house. Some basic character building there.
However, things take an odd turn when Ed Harris knocks on their door and invites himself in, claiming that he thought their house was a B&B, asking to stay the night anyway.
Things slowly get stranger from there.
Not For the Faint of Heart
Mother! has a surreal, nightmarish, quality to it, not too dissimilar to The Shining. In fact, there are several comparisons that you can make to The Shining, from the creepy atmosphere, the strange isolating feel even right down to the plot which revolves around a struggling writer and his wife cut off and isolated from the rest of the world. There’s a sense of creeping dread to the movie as if there’s some evil figure hiding just outside of the camera shot waiting for just the right moment to reveal itself. And when it does, quite literally all hell breaks loose. The last forty minutes might be the most insanity riddled close to a movie you’re ever likely to see.
The last forty minutes might be the most insanity riddled close to a movie you’re ever likely to see
For what it’s worth the camera work is fantastic where 90% of the shots are long looming glances over Lawrance’s shoulder as if were stalking her all around her home without her knowing. Naturally Javier Bardem does a fantastic job with the material they’re given, but regrettably, I feel all of that is going to be lost as the bizarre story and how it plays out will most likely get all the headlines.
Mother! has the potential to be one of the most polarising films out there, with the possibility that mainstream audiences will be alienated by a movie they were lead to believe some mildly unsettling horror movie, only to find it’s anything but. Aronofsky’s earlier work, ‘Black Swan’, was a film that much like this one used grotesque and surreal imagery to get its point across. In Mother! it feels like Aronofsky tried to do the same thing but he went overboard and way too aggressive with whatever message he was trying to convey
Mother! is one of those rare movies that is less of a film you watch and more like something you experience, and while it might difficult to define exactly what genre of film it might be, the experience is certainly an uncomfortably memorable one