[Review] Mother!

Synopsis: A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

Mother! says more about Darren Aronofsky than it does about whatever it’s trying to say, which appears to be the incoherent rantings of someone with too much time on their hands and not enough personal responsibilities, also known as someone who is out of touch with what the rest of society experiences. Mr. Aronofsky wanted to, by his own account, retell the biblical story of our planet’s creation as an allegory to showcase that humans are garbage. Besides being a two-hour insult directed at the audience the movie is just poorly made. It’s boring. Unfortunately, Aronofsky was too lost in his own head to realize that the audience needs some sort of reference point to get absorbed by a story. Otherwise it feels less like a movie and more like a PowerPoint presentation. This presentation could easily have been called “Darren Aronofsky is Enlightened Enough to Tell Us Simpletons Why We Suck.” When everything is symbolism, nothing is symbolism.

The concept of Mother! is actually incredibly fascinating. The problem is that the allegory becomes more important than the story being told on the surface. If you’re not interested in the narrative of the movie, it doesn’t matter what lies underneath. When reviewing this movie, it’s important to stick to the narrative and not what that narrative can represent because audiences first watch a movie and enjoy a movie before they analyze the content. Analyzing a movie that you don’t like is just masturbation.

Mother! flows so casually that it’s tough to invest into. The movie follows a couple living in a grand house as they experience a series of events that exceedingly frustrate the wife, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, and elate the husband, Javier Bardem. Although it should be easy to relate to the frustrations felt by mother it’s not and the reason is because the script isn’t interested in portraying anything rooted in reality. Events in the movie, such as uninvited house guests physically destroying the house, feel so fabricated that instead of sharing the feeling of frustration the audience just follows along waiting for the next “event.” The movie starts to feel a lot like Paranormal Activity in that by the first fifteen minutes you already know the entire structure and course of the movie. You know there will be a series of strange occurrences that disrupt the routine of the main character, each more exaggerated than the last.

What separates this movie from a surrealist film like 8½ is that Mother! comes from a place of anger. The more frustrated she gets with the events taking place in her house, the angrier she gets. Ultimately it just becomes anger porn, pointing her finger and literally shouting “you! It’s because of YOU this is happening.” Who is she pointing at? A lot of people, including her husband in the film and whatever he represents (Aronofsky admitted that the character represents God). The audience is not exempt from the condemnation and that’s a major reason why the movie is so boring. Who wants to get scolded by an “artist” for two hours?

The movie is not without its highlights. Visually, the final third of the film is stunning and reminiscent of Children of Men in many ways, a beautiful cacophony of humanity at its worst and using technology to amplify the impact of our faults. This is a terrible movie though so the scenes offer little more than shock value. In Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece you truly believe the emotional toll it takes on a person living in a violent dystopia. In Mother! you just see violent acts because people are violent. That sound your hearing is Aronofsky patting himself on the back for the hard pill he’s making us all swallow.

Maybe it’s more than just a bad movie. Maybe it’s the director’s world view that’s boring and unoriginal. I can’t imagine a worse verdict to hand a writer.

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