“Mother!”: A Beautiful and Intriguing Allegory

Don’t you hate it when you have unwanted house guests? They always make themselves at home by putting their feet on the coffee table and eating up all your food. Sometimes they might even sit on your counter tops or smoke indoors. The worst is when they start painting the walls, stealing all of your belongings and committing homicide on your new carpet.

“Mother!” is a film written and directed by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. This film centers on the events surrounding a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by a series of mysterious house guests. As more guests begin arriving at the house, they grow increasingly rude and violent toward each other and their hosts. Aronofsky has created a film told in strict allegorical narrative that touches on a wide array of themes including creation, human nature, domestic abuse and neglect.

Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the title character is truly awe inspiring. Lawrence manages to take on the essence of a very broad concept and conveys it in human form while simultaneously giving a very honest and intense performance. Javier Bardem’s onscreen presence as Him is massive and domineering. Even when he isn’t in a scene, his presence is felt all throughout the house. Bardem finds a way to play an all-powerful being that still struggles with very human traits such as love, anger and loneliness.

Aronofsky’s fearless vision for this film disorients audiences by sprinkling in glimpses of hope in-between a cacophony of debauchery and violence. Some moments of this film are beautiful and sweet, while others are downright heart wrenching. This atmosphere can largely be attributed to Matthew Libatique’s cinematography which fixates itself on Mother’s perspective, causing the space to feel both intimate and claustrophobic. Craig Henighan’s sound design, although sparse, conveys the sheer tension when paired with complete silence.

As there are many things that this film does superbly, there are many disappointing flaws.

Aronofsky wrote the first draft of this film in five days. And it shows. Many scenes in this film feel forced and sloppy while others feel like they were prolonged for the run-time. Although some metaphors in this film are easy to spot, other very important details needed to unlock the meaning of the piece may leave you scratching your head. On my first viewing, I caught on quite fast while my friend stayed left in the dark for a large portion of the movie, making it tedious and confusing. After a second viewing, I still have many questions left unanswered. A huge one being, what mysterious medication did Mother need during her episodes?

There is a scene towards the climax of this film involving a baby that, in the allegorical structure, I feel was completely underused. This child, in my opinion, should have mattered much more than he did and was reduced to a simple plot device.

“Mother!” is a film that students should go see for its tremendous performances and director’s vision, but due to its failed potential, it hasn’t received a perfect rating.

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