I don’t usually feel the urge to write movie reviews, even though I go to the cinema about once week. After seeing this film, however, I really felt like I had to write down my thoughts because I couldn’t figure out what my thoughts were! It was one strange film.
Did I enjoy it? Not sure. Did I understand it? Probably not!
I went into this film not knowing anything about it other than seeing the trailer, and at the time of writing this, I had not read anything about it either…so were my theories correct? Read on…
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky
When I was working in pubs and first started getting manager shifts I started having these awful stress-dreams where people simply refused to leave at the end of the night (turns out this is a common thing in the trade). I’d go around the pub telling each group of customers that drinking time was up and they had to leave, but no one would move. I’d lock one door but more people would come through a side door and I couldn’t stop them. They would be crowding around the bar shouting for drinks and start trashing the place. AND NEVER LEAVE.
That’s exactly what watching this film was like. It was exhausting, claustrophobic, and stressful (especially for someone like me who finds people tiring at the best of times – not least when they show up uninvited and then won’t leave).
Being an Aronofsky film (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), I knew mother! would be a bit doo-lally, but woah. I didn’t expect that amount of craziness. On the surface it seems like a confused, badly-written film, but surely there’s more to it!?
At first glance it’s a home invasion story where these bizarre, audacious people keep turning up at the house Jennifer Lawrence’s character (yep none of the characters have proper names, just to add to the pretension of it all) has built from scratch. And when they finally outstay their welcome, they refuse to leave. This gives way to the marital breakdown part of the story where the young wife (still Lawrence) will always love the older husband (Javier Bardem’s ‘Him’) more than he loves her, no matter how hard she tries. And then there’s the real horror element which is a sort of creepy living house vibe, where stains grow by themselves and walls have heartbeats. Weird.
As the film surpassed the half-way mark, it got pretty disturbingly bizarre and increasingly fantastical. It’s one of those films that you hope has a point that you’re not quite grasping, because without a point, it seems pretty terrible.
But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t look away, even though I wanted to. A lot.
As I said at the beginning, I’ve not read any of the reviews of interviews, so I only have my own thoughts to go on, and for what it’s worth, I came up with the following theories:
1. Aronofsky is trying to represent the hormonal, emotional and physical turmoil of pregnancy. Was the whole thing a metaphor for JL’s pregnancy-induced paranoia of never being good enough?
2. Or, it is a representation of the ego of mankind. Those who feed off the goodness of others, whom take everything and give nothing. I think I like this theory the most.
(On a side note, it could also be a dig at celebrity culture – those who crave constant attention and out-pourings of love and admiration?)
3. It is a political/ecological lesson about overpopulation, inhumanity, and environmental destruction.
It’s possible the writer/director was trying to say all of these things and that’s why it was so mad. No doubt everyone who sees it will have their own theories as well, so I think the film was a success on that level. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to actively find the meaning behind a film or story. And the more I think about what it could all mean, the less ridiculous the film seems. Taken at face value though, it is just that – ridiculous.
***Update: I have since read some reviews and interviews about what the hell was going on here and it turns out my theories weren’t quite what Aronofsky had in mind. But I don’t think I was that far off! This Telegraph article explains all (and has ALL THE SPOILERS FYI)
Did you see Mother! ? What did you make of it?