Review: Mother! (2017)

What the fuck did I just watch? Darren Aronofsky is notorious for making some seriously strange movies. Mother! is no exception to the rule and even takes it to another level. Which I’m not sure is a good thing. This film is certainly geared more towards a niche audience looking to wrack their brain on allegories and I’m surprised it wasn’t a more limited release for that reason. I’m not calling the general public dumb, but studios tend to shy away from releasing movies like this out of fear that they won’t get return on investment. The story begins with a woman and her husband (no, they don’t have names) who live in a home seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Their tranquil existence is interrupted by visitors with questionable motives. Let’s take a closer, spoiler-free look at Mother!

The Good: Darren Aronofsky films like to play with your senses, and that is exactly the case with Mother! This film really appeals to them as you hear every floorboard creak, every exasperated breath and even the pulse of the house. This helps build tension and set the mood for events to come. It gives you that gut anxiety feeling when you’re hearing every single little noise as things around the Mother gradually become more chaotic. This makes the breaks of silence eerie in a way, because you become so used to the white noise around her.

The Bad: I’m sure there are going to be people kissing Jennifer Lawrence’s ass for the next year or so because of her performance. But I was bored with her character and irritated with the way she and others were written. I understand that they were all intentionally written this way to deliver a story, but the characters responses to certain situations just seemed so unnatural. If anyone showed up at my door in the middle of the night, it would have to be a seriously extenuating circumstance for me to let them stay. When others showed up, I’d probably be throwing punches. Maybe that just makes me an asshole, I don’t know. I could sympathize with the Mother, but I was hard pressed to find a character that was actually likeable in any way.

The pacing of the film seems painfully slow and makes an already long movie seem much longer. I don’t need fire and blood raining around me to be entertained but there were only a couple big moments that really got me engaged. Aronofsky has done it right before by balancing drama, suspense and even a little horror (IE; Requiem for a Dream, which if you haven’t seen you should). Mother! has all these elements but they seem disproportionate, which tends to make things drag quite a bit.

From start to finish, this film keeps you guessing as to what the hell is going on. The world that the mother and him (Javier Bardem) live in seems to be something out of a dream, yet it could really exist. I really enjoyed the mysterious aspect of the film but I also felt somewhat misled. The trailers made it seem as if this was going to quickly devolve into a devil baby movie, but believe me you’re going to be far more confused than that.

So, is too weird a bad thing? I’m occasionally down to watch an indy, artsy film but a few ride that line of being outright strange. This movie tore right through that threshold and actually made me wonder that question; is too weird a bad thing? In some cases, yes. It appears to be a cohesive story but I was constantly asking myself if any of the film is really supposed to be happening or if it’s some sort of hallucination. It’s not strange like goats talking or anything like that, but just the behavior of the characters and the general setting seem peculiar.  In Aronofsky fashion, the last fifteen minutes of the movie will probably leave you horrified and when it’s all said and done you’re going to feel like you just snapped out of a dream. Nevertheless, there’s a message to be gained from the movie and it’s an interesting ride to say the least.

The Judgment: I honestly walked out of a dead silent theater not knowing what to think or say about the film, guessing that others around me felt the same way. It took me a little bit to digest the message and make sense of everything that I saw. If sensory stuff or artsy movies irritates you, I wouldn’t recommend seeing this film. If your curiosity has gotten the best of you or you’re a fan of indy films, go check it out. Personally, I didn’t like this movie much at all, but I’ve seen and enjoyed a few other Aronofsky films so I’m just chalking this one up as a fluke.

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