mother! Movie Review
You are going to hate mother! Don’t listen to what the critics say. Don’t even listen to what I say. You’re going to fucking hate Darren Aronofsky’s new movie no matter how intense, unpredictable, and well made it is. Because what the fuck.
I walked out of the screening absolutely dumbfounded, with a vacant stare and a slight, shit-eating grin on my face, confused as to what I had just watched, confused as to whether I actually liked the damn thing. Aronofsky is one of today’s most innovative filmmakers, and mother! is undoubtedly innovative, but not all risks pay off, and it’s hard to say with a straight face that this new incarnation—a psychological thriller that evolves, or devolves, depending on how you look at it, into something else entirely—that Aronofsky has delivered something entirely watchable.
Jennifer Lawrence is sensational as always, Javier Bardem is strong, and it’s great to see Michelle Pfeiffer back on screen, chewing up scenery with steely looks and a sharp tongue. The movie works best when the three, along with Ed Harris (also excellent), are together—in other words, the first half. The movie is gripping, Aronofsky slowing drawing you in as he wraps his tentacles around you, giggling maniacally somewhere off screen as he prepares to stab you in the face repeatedly with a rusted spoon. But truly, the first half of mother! is excellent—it’s unpredictable, weird but not too weird, and sort of funny in a what-the-hell-is-happening kind of way.
But then the movie pivots, temporarily screeching to a dead stop before Aronofsky unleashes his true intentions—and to say what they are would betray everything the movie is about—and probably, out of morbid curiosity, entice you to see it despite my warnings—and shit hits the fan in glorified, spectacular Aronofsky fashion.
The final act is chaotic, intentionally so—a never-ending, pulsing diversion into hell, but whether that’s Lawrence’s hell or our hell I’m not so sure. mother! is exciting until the very end, but simultaneously frustrating, a crazy allegory for life or hell or humanity or something someone smarter will undoubtedly write about to prove (or convince) that he or she knows exactly what Aronofsky was shooting for, as if anyone could truly know that.
The problem is, whatever the meaning of this movie is, it doesn’t entirely work, it doesn’t really click, and it doesn’t make much sense, even if the film doesn’t need to make complete sense. And worse, after a while, the film becomes tedious, the experience almost monotonous, and certainly not much fun.
mother! is a fascinating movie, but it doesn’t work. I loved parts, hated others, and am baffled in the kind of way that could convince me this film is brilliant—if I wanted to sound smarter than I am. Instead, I’ll just say I’m baffled, and not in a good way, and my desire to revisit, or even recommend, mother! is waning with every word I write. The movie is ambitious, but that doesn’t make it good. You’ll hate it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.