Hoooooo boy, I’ve never had so many people wanting my opinion on something this bad before. It didn’t help that a couple friends had seen it early either, but that’s besides the point. My friends were raving about it, saying it was good, bad, and everything in between.
I had friends immediately after the film come to me and ask what I thought. All that, plus actually viewing the film, showed me that Mother was gonna be one of the few films to talk about this year. After discussing with some friends about the film, there seemed to be some definite differences between my experience and theirs, which was further cemented by watching some other people review it online, in that I was also at odds with the professionals as well. Sorry if that was a little long winded, I just felt like I needed to give some context there.
I liked Mother. I enjoyed trying to piece together the connections that Darren Aronofsky wanted connected. And the way that Aronofsky put all of it together is amazingly well done. The sound design of this film exquisite, to the point where I never realized until the end credits that there was no music. Or at least none that I remember. And all the performances are great. Camera work good, if maybe a little too much like a thriller, which this movie is definitely not. Honestly, there are only couple things here that people are really talking about, and that is the symbolism, the structure, and one scene. But on the whole this film is a well made, artsy think piece, and you shouldn’t go into it thinking it is anything else.
Now this is where I’m break into possible spoilers, so watch where your eyes dart. Get out now if you haven’t seen or just don’t care. Who knows, it might make the film better for you. Like I said, there seems to be only three things that people wanna talk about. The first of which is the symbolism. Aronofsky is a symbolic filmmaker, and this one is his most metaphorical, at least that I’ve seen. It’s pretty clear that his intention was to make a piece about how humanity is destroying the earth, who is personified by Jennifer Lawrence, except he uses the religious framework of christianity as the lens he views the problem from. Javier Bardem is god, and most other characters in the film are his adoring children of faith, destroying earth in his name until Mother gets fed up and destroys everything.
This upset a lot of people. Now I am not religious, and I have yet to fully understand where each offended party’s feelings come from, it is totally their right to feel however they want. I lean toward the side of indifference. I think that Aronofsky wrote a neat little piece that made me go, “Huh that was kinda cool.” All the pieces lined up and it made sense, with only a couple bits that maybe didn’t fit quite right. None of it offended me. Sure, at points it felt like I was being talked down to, but it never felt like I was being assaulted. I think it’s because I never put too much investment into this movie. I didn’t let any hype swallow me up and pushed everyone’s personal feelings aside so that they didn’t cloud my judgement. So for people thinking I would be very emotional about that part of Mother, I’m not. I do like thinking that this a much better, if slightly to insane, allegory for the spouse of an artist. It makes the film a little less grandiose.
People also got upset at the baby scene. I swear to Javier Bardem, this is the thing that everyone is the most upset about. Again, you can be upset at anything you want, but honestly, it was no more shocking to me than the beginning of IT when Georgie gets his arm torn off. A little surprising, sure, but nothing to get up in arms about. And it works with the religious metaphor. This scene makes one half the audience, let’s call them the general public, throw tomatoes at the screen and walk out, and the other half, let’s call them film buffs, pass over it with little more than an “Oh my!”. It’s kind of a litmus test to see how many dark, depressing things you’ve seen in your life. Clearly I’ve fallen on a bleaker side.
One last thing I wanted to touch on was structure. The third act of Mother ramps up fast, and really doesn’t let up until the titular character has her baby, and then just ramps up again right after. Now it definitely is shocking, but I don’t think it works in the films favor. The insanity becomes exhausting after a certain point, due to the fact that Aronofsky and his DP keep a consistent visual style throughout the film. They rarely go for a wide angle and very rarely put the camera on a stable surface. This doesn’t set the craziness later in the film apart from the more grounded drama in the beginning, and that I think is a big downside, much like with Detroit. If Aronofsky had maybe shortened the sequence, or used more wide angles and less shake during the quieter moments, it could have given some more weight to key scenes, but overall it felt quite messy.
With aaaaall that being said though, I wanna reiterate that I did enjoy the film. I liked the cast, the plotting, and how it was made. It’s definitely not for everyone, and I would caution people who think it’s a horror or thriller from going to see it based off of that. This seems to be Aronofsky’s way of dealing with pent up emotions, and the only people who would care about a film buffs personal problems would be other film buffs. So I’m giving it 7 Stulls. Now I’m going to sit and wait for Kingsman 2 like a good boy.