These days, we live in a world where most things are terrible and don't make any sense. Yet, a film like Mother! can still come along and disgust audiences. A film so off-putting, Rex Reed declared it "The worst film of the century". Make no mistake, Mother! is a profoundly polarizing film. But that is only because it went mainstream. It stars mainstream actors. It's distributed by Paramount. In recent years, the art-house and the multiplex have never crossed paths. But as the era of the blockbuster fades away, it was only a matter of time for Hollywood to return back to it's roots. To bring us back to the late 1960's, where most films meant something. Films that grab you. Films that push serious boundaries. I rarely leave a theater shaken. But Mother! did just that. It is a beautiful, terrifying assault on your senses.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a lovely couple. Bardem is a struggling poet, while Lawrence tends to her house obsessively. Everything seems fine on the surface. What's that, you ask? The house has a heart! I admit the deed! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It's the beating of his hideous heart! ... and scene. Thank you for indulging me. No seriously, the house has a heart.. and internal organs. It's a living entity. I heard of the phrase "Home is where the heart is" but this is ridiculous. Is it? Lawrence plays someone that wants to be a mother to something. Her house? What happens when adoring fans come rushing in to see Bardem? Unwelcome visitors all! They wreck the house and impede on Lawrence's hard work. This must not go on. To fill the void, Bardem and Lawrence conceive a child. As the days go on, the guest list becomes bigger and bigger. By the film's midpoint, the house becomes a small city of thieves and squatters. After that, I must not share anymore. Because if you're already confused by what I'm telling you.. you don't know what confused is, my friend.
How does one interpret Mother! It's the quintessential art-house/midnight movie. Therefore, anything is plausible. Aronofsky intended it that way. He juggles many concepts and critiques about life itself. Motherhood, paranoia, fame, claustrophobia, selfishness, lust, rage, war, peace, religion, gender, history.. Mother! is whatever you want it to be and more. If you know that going in, this will be a breeze. If you don't, you will loathe every second of this film and I won't blame you. It is a lot to swallow. The climax of the picture is well orchestrated insanity. Arguably, the most intense sequence of events captured on screen since Children of Men. By comparison, Requiem for a Dream is almost entirely palpable. You sit back in your seat and think "Enough already. This is too much. Wow. It's not stopping. Please stop.". But that is precisely the point. Aronofsky does not let up until you are mentally drained from watching. But at least to ease some of the pain, you see a lot of Jennifer Lawrence's face, up-close. Most of the film is on her face. In real life, she is in a relationship with Aronofsky. Coincidence? No, not a coincidence. This is the mark of a filmmaker madly in love with his star. On an emotional level, that shows.
Mother! is not a film to go into blind.. but that certainly helps the experience. Polarizing, disturbing films are not crowd pleasures by any stretch, but that's never been an area that bothers me. Films like these fascinate me. Their lack of decorum fascinates me. The reactions from the audience fascinate me. On Lars Von Trier's best day, he couldn't have conjured a film like Mother! .. and if he did, he would've have let it be seen in a shopping mall.