Written by Natale Ryan
Darren Aronofsky has a tremendous number of landmark movies on his resume. His most well-known accomplishments are 2000’s Requiem for a Dream and 2010’s Black Swan. Aronofsky tends to use a mixture of horror-esque storytelling and a bold artsy style to convey his message. This year, a new film by Aronofsky was marketed as thriller-suspense, but when fans flocked to see it based upon what the trailer advertised, they were highly disappointed. Mother!, though advertised as a classic suspense movie, is an artistic film about allegories hidden in other allegories. It was this misadvertisement of this film, and the wide universal release, that has created such a disdain for this movie. However, I disagree with this, and I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
The plot is hard to grasp, and for many this can be very off-putting. The characters are nameless and are mainly archetypes. Jennifer Lawrence plays a woman named “Her,” and Javier Bardem plays a man named “Him.” The duo are married and live in a very isolated house, and this is the only setting in the film. “Her” loves to refurbish her home, which has been recently ravaged by a fire. “Him” is a poet with writer’s block, who is struggling to find his inspiration. “Her” is a very doting wife, and she loves “Him” almost to a fault. Soon, strangers visit the couple’s isolated home, and their names are “Woman” (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) and “Man” (played by Ed Harris). After “Man” and “Woman” arrive, the pace of the film picks up and things begin to spiral out of control. Soon, more strangers come with hopes of meeting the famed author “Him.” If I were to explain more regarding the plot, I would be giving away too much, but that may or may not be a bad thing, considering the content of the film.
If you are wondering if you should see this film, or if you have heard gossip, there are a few things that you may want to know. Firstly, it is violent, yet not gory. The film uses violence as tastefully as it can, yet it can be difficult to watch. It displays amazing cinematography, and has a gritty and claustrophobic feel. Second, Lawrence’s character is not the strong-willed woman she often portrays. “Her” is a very old-fashioned, and oftentimes, weak woman. She can be frustrating to watch, and she can be seen as an allegory for femininity, Mother Nature, or inspiration. Throughout the movie, she complains, cries, and screams at strangers flooding her home. Lastly, this film, to many, can be seen as pretentious and arrogant. Each thing and character is this film is a metaphor for another metaphor. There are allegories within allegories, and concepts within concepts. It can, however, inspire whatever meaning you are feeling when you watch it. There are biblical themes, themes regarding nature, themes regarding the human psyche, and themes regarding the stages of creativity. In a way, to me, the house that “Him” and “Her” dwell in is a character itself and can be seen as the world, the human body, or our mind. If you see it, and want to add more layers to what is already there, read the ending credits and study the names given to the characters.
This movie is not for everyone. It can be seen as an assault of your senses, and I have to agree with that. I, however, did something unusual before viewing this film: I read all the spoilers. I am not a fan of unsettling films in the least and didn’t want to be disturbed. After I spoiled it for myself, I watched it and was blown away. I am relieved that I didn’t experience the shock of this film, and after you push aside everything created for shock value, it is a wonderful and impactful story that sheds light on society and mankind. If you saw this movie and were put off by it, I recommend watching it again. If you are sensitive and curious about this, I recommend reading spoilers, because it’ll help keep your mind on the story and picking out metaphors.
The film has no soundtrack. There is not a shred of musical score in the film whatsoever. The camera seems to be only trained on “Her” throughout the length of the film, and we see what she sees. The setting is gorgeous. Even though it is contained to a central location, it is exquisitely shot. The acting is superb, in my opinion. Lawrence, though she seems to be playing against the type she usually portrays, fits this role very well and elicits sympathy from the viewer. The very ending is tremendously creative, and I absolutely loved it.
As I mentioned above, I highly recommend this movie to people who want something to think about. However, if you are sensitive, like me, and don’t want to be disturbed, please read the spoilers so that you can enjoy the movie without the shock. If anything, it’ll give you something to talk about for decades to come.
Natale is an English teacher in Mokpo. She is from Memphis, Tennessee in the United States. She attended college in Jonesboro, Arkansas and majored in criminology and sociology. In her free time, she enjoys watching scary movies and writing short stories. Her favorite movies are To Kill a Mockingbird, E.T., and Memento. Her heroes are Snoopy and Audrey Hepburn.