Film Review: Mother!

‘Mother!’ is directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. And nobody seems to know what’s going on with that conspicuous exclamation mark in the film’s title, I suppose it’ll just remain one of life’s little mysteries.

I wonder if even Aronofsky himself knows, perhaps it was a printing error picked up on too late to be rectified, but alas we digress. Now this film’s a tricky one to explain, which is precisely why it’s gone onto be so divisive among critics and audiences alike.

It’s one to stir up debates and really get people talking as they leave the cinema. To explain the film in simple terms it would go something like this – A couple find their relationship tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their peaceful existence. Now while that might do the job of explaining this film’s plot, it barely even scratches the surface because there is just so much going on here.

I’m talking more or less every single frame having some kind of symbolic detail to be seen and analysed by the viewer. From a filmmaking standpoint it’s extraordinary, there’s really not a lot to be criticised when it comes to the visual aspect of this movie.

Although I should probably warn you now that the majority of this film is made up of over the shoulder shots and close ups. For the most part it works perfectly, but I did find myself praying for a wide shot a handful of times, if nothing else than to catch my breath and mentally digest all of what I’d just seen.

Mother! is yet another film to have fallen victim to poor marketing and I don’t mean that it hasn’t been marketed enough, but rather it’s been marketed towards the wrong people. The trailers seemed to pitch it as an out and out horror movie, which then of course drew in crowds expecting cheap jump scares galore. This was clearly done to get butts in seats, but it still hasn’t been able to contend with the Stephen King ‘IT’ remake and let’s be honest there was no chance of that. It just wasn’t going to happen, but at least if they were a little more honest about what this film really is, it may have had a better reception.

Mother! is undoubtedly one for the film nerds, like myself, inviting you to sit and absorb every single little detail along the way and ultimately make of it what you will. Just like looking at a good painting, it’s a subjective experience and everyone will have their own interpretation. Films which achieve this have always held a special place in my heart, the only problem is Aronofsky went and revealed the real meaning behind Mother! just a few days after the film’s release.

To me that’s just inexcusable and it did end up having a negative impact on my viewing. I couldn’t help feeling like trying to piece it all together myself would have been far more rewarding rather than starting the film with that knowledge already in mind. Once you know the meaning behind ‘Mother!’ there’s really not a lot to get out of its storytelling, the imagery just beats you over the head and becomes less and less subtle as the film goes on. 7/10

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