Either this was pretentious crap or it was pure genius. Whatever it was I loved every minute of it. Best viewed as an allegory with plenty of religious references thrown in for good measure. Definitely a horror story based on a Kafkaesque nightmare. Aronofsky is said to have written mother! in a fever dream lasting five days.
Known for such pictures as Black Swan (2010), Noah (2014), and The Wrestler (2008), writer-director Darren Aronofsky brings his apocalyptic vision to the screen. Him, played by Javier Bardem, is a poet who is suffering from writer’s block. His beautiful wife, half his age, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is restoring their Victorian home which was destroyed by a fire. She is the titular character known as “mother!” They are visited by a mysterious couple who show up out of nowhere: “Man” and “Woman,” played respectively by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. Their two grown children (Brian Gleeson and Domhnall Gleeson) arrive soon after. They are known as “younger brother” and “oldest son.” A murder ensues and the house springs forth a stigmata. Pretty soon we begin to realize something pretty strange is going on here and paradise is not what it seems to be.
Inspired by Rosemary’s Baby and Luis Bunel’s, Exterminating Angel, I also saw echoes of Stardust Memory and 8 ½, but I may be projecting. The house represents earth, Javier Bardem is God the Creator, and Jennifer Lawrence is Mother Nature. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are Adam and Eve, and The Gleason Brothers are Cain and Abel.
When He breaks through His writer’s block and completes his masterpiece mother gets pregnant and things really get interesting. The house is besieged by the writer’s fans and all hell literally breaks loose.
The acting is uniformly excellent. Javier Bardem plays his character with a smooth detached quality. Jennifer Lawrence carries the film with her close up reaction shots that fill the screen. Michelle Pfeiffer, still beautiful after all this time, plays her character with devilish delight.
This movie has garnered plenty of controversy. When it was shown at Cannes, half the audience stood up and clapped and half the audience stayed in their seats and booed. You either love it or hate it. If you take someone to see this movie one of you is going to love it and one of you is going to hate it, which will make for some good dinner conversation later. This, I think is a mark of a good film, one that makes you want to talk about it and one that stays in your mind long after you’ve seen it.
It’s not for everyone, but I highly recommend this thought provoking film. And to quote Mr. Aronofsky, “This serving is best drunk as a single dose in a shot glass. Knock it back. Salute!”