Movie Title: Mother!
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 2 hr. and 1 min.
Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo
Where did I watch it?: Home
Darren Aronofsky is a director with some great movies on his resume such as The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream. Both of those films have artistic concepts, but also have a strong plot to accompany them. Unfortunately, Aronofsky also has a tendency to make movies that have very little in the way of a coherent plot that surrender purely to concept such as Pi. Mother! falls into the latter category and is an absolute mess from a plot perspective. The metaphorical / surrealist nature of the rest of the movie doesn’t have any consistent message or clear meaning and thus butchers the rest of the movie.
To begin with, none of the characters in the story have names, which typically means that they are meant to represent the every man or every woman. The story starts off after a fire with Jennifer Lawrence burnt to a crisp. Things quickly revert to a past state where Javier Bardem’s character is obsessed with a large crystal he got from his home when it burnt down. He is a famed poet suffering from writer’s block and Lawrence is longing for a child he will not give her.
House guests show up played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. Ed Harris claims he showed up at the house looking for a room to rent, but quickly admits he is ill and wanted to meet his favorite writer. Pfeiffer joins him later. Harris is seen throwing up with a wound on his side the first night and nothing about him is ever really explained. Harris and Pfeiffer abuse Lawrence’s hospitality, to say the least, while Bardem uses them for inspiration for his writing. Eventually their sons show up and fight over a contested will. Afterward, Bardem uses the conflict and relationship with his wife as inspiration for a new piece and an endless stream of people begin coming to the house.
Throughout this there are visions of the house breathing and bleeding occurring in Lawrence’s mind and she consumes a yellow liquid to make it go away. Later, she inexplicably flushes the liquid down the toilet. In the basement a concrete wall absorbs blood and shakes when the boiler kicks on. There is a floor that bleeds repeatedly. Sharp piercing sounds occur in her head repetitively. While a large portion of the 1st half of the movie focuses on this you don’t have to worry about it at all because it doesn’t go anywhere.
Here are a few possible ways I saw of interpreting the movie:
1. An Allegory About Celebrity
Bardem, the successful writer, achieves fame, but then everyone wants their literal and metaphorical pound of flesh from him. They bring gifts, but also destroy everything he worked for. Unfortunately, he is unable to see it.
2. An Abusive Relationship
Bardem takes advantage of Lawrence in every possible way and bleeds her dry…which leads too…
3. A really fucked up version of The Giving Tree (or what the giving tree is actually about because it really is a pretty fucked up story on its own)
This didn’t hit me until very close to the end of the movie when Bardem and Lawrence are talking and Lawrence literally says “but I have nothing left to give,” which is basically verbatim out of the Shel Silverstein story. Surprise, surprise, Bardem finds one more thing to take much like how that stupid door mat of a tree lets that old bastard sit on him in the story. Don’t tread on me.
4. Religious Parable
It doesn’t make a lot of sense as a religious parable, but there is a lot of religious imagery. There is a scene where blood is absorbed in the house and a frog emerges from a hidden passage which strikes me as very old testament (plagues.) Then there is also the anointing of followers, helping those in need, forgiveness, and a lot of Christ imagery surrounding Lawrence’s child (she is the titular mother after all.)
5. I’m certain there are others, but ultimately…
The problem is that none of these interpretations can be interpreted clearly and consistently throughout the film. The characters are also so detestable that I couldn’t care less about the message the movie is trying to send. The end is practically worse than the dreaded “it was all a dream after all,” though I’m certain it was going for something about the cyclical / repetitive nature of life.
Watching this movie quickly became a chore before descending into surrealist trash. The characters were annoying, the plot was nearly non-existent, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. There was lots of cheap shock value and interesting special effects, but by the time it came around I cared so little that it was irrelevant. Do yourself a HUGE favor and skip this hunk of trash.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Wind River (2017)
Today was a resting and fasting day and then I’ll be run/walking three miles tomorrow with a weigh in.