While remaining spoiler-free throughout the review, let me just say it feels downright dirty to even write on Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, “mother!” For most of the latter portion of the film, my mouth was dropped for such an extended period of time that it became drier than the Mojave.
A Rotten Tomatoes summary of this thriller will tell you “a couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.” However, I’m here to confirm that such a description doesn’t even cover the tip of the iceberg.
Given a F rating by the movie-rating site Cinemascore, dubbed by the New York Observer as “the worst movie of the year, maybe the CENTURY” and dismissed by many simply because of the extraneous punctuation, “mother!” may be many things, but it is not deserving of any of those complaints.
Both entrancing yet utterly bizarre, the beautifully-crafted use of sound, imagery and the limited dialogue in “mother!” were superb. This left little room to form emotional ties to any of the characters, but even this seemingly negative aspect appears intentional. In fact, none of the protagonists were assigned names something thats hard to catch and may seem insignificant but upon further speculation, it was an ingenious move by Aronofsky.
The slow parts were ridiculously drawn out, and the fast parts were furiously reckless, creating a true rollercoaster of a film. Given, I went into the theater with expectations about as ambiguous as their marketing ploy, but it made the ride that much more worth it.
“mother!” has two distinct halves, making it seem like two separate movies entirely. It’s not so much a tonal difference, but rather a disparity in correlating subject matter that creates this disconnect. The plot starts out on one path but ends up in a completely unexpected destination.
At one point, an entire sequence appeared to be a rape metaphor, but soon after, I got heavy religious vibes after many biblical references were made. It transformed the film from chaotic gibberish to a figurative masterpiece. The only indisputable fact is that every single minute of the second half was disturbing, and no recap could ever do the horror displayed on the screen justice.
Upon gauging public reaction, it’s been compared to a wide variety of other films, and its meaning and potential takeaways are drastically different for everyone. It’s certainly an artsy piece with plenty of obscurity, so it goes without saying it isn’t for everyone.
I still cannot determine if I genuinely enjoyed all the upsetting implications or just admired how different the movie was. Additionally, I’m torn on whether or not the shock value was merely implemented to be scandalous or if there is a greater lesson beneath all the murky mayhem.
The film came full-circle, beginning and closing with the exact same restoration sequence of the house, along with other recurring imagery. While this approach typically lends itself to a clear-cut ending, it only served to raise more questions and convoluted explanations in this case.
And thats the beauty of cinema. When a writer can elicit polarizing reactions and stir up controversy, its a job well done. Aronofsky’s stylistic choices worked, and I give him a tip of my hat for his nonsensical work of genius.