By now you have likely been pummeled by headlines denouncing the latest film by Darren Aronofsky, mother! It has been intensely polarizing and there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. Why? Because people are either really looking at it and focusing on the film or they are only seeing the surface and taking it at face value.
Warning. This review contains spoilers. I usually avoid them, but I can’t this time. Read no further if you don’t want to know about the film. If you haven’t seen it, see it and come back and let me know what YOU think.
Here’s the deal. If you go to this movie expecting your standard horror flick, there’s plenty of weirdness and violence to go around. And it might offend you or you might just shake your head and say, “WTF was that?!” Those are the people who seem to drift towards reviews like, “Torture porn!” or “What the hell did I just watch?” or “What a mess.”
Well, the only REAL torture is the psychological kind. Sorry, torture porn lovers. You’ll have to go back and watch I Spit on Your Grave again or something.
This is my interpretation, not taking apart every second because I’ve only seen the movie once and I’m going for overvew. Javier Bardem is God. Nobody is called by any name in this movie – only Him or Her or “goddess” as Javier calls costar Jennifer Lawrence, who is Mother Earth. God has created Earth with her at his side and she constantly works to make it more beautiful. This is all played out as she fixes up his “old home that burned down” which symbolizes the world. She paints, she plasters, she does whatever she needs doing to make it perfect.
While MOTHER is busy and happily making Earth pretty, God is frustrated. He is a creator. He sits in his office with copies of his first book of poetry, trying to create something new. He is frustrated. He prizes one particular possession: a stunning crystal, run through with gold and red. No one is allowed in his office and even his wife can’t touch the crystal.
A stranger shows up at the door, Ed Harris, and he’s in rough shape. Eventually we see him with a bloody cut in his back in the rib area… and the next day his wife shows up. Adam and Eve, folks. These two just can’t help themselves. They throw the rules in Her (Mother’s) face and then they break the crystal. He (God) is pissed. The guests’ sons show up out of nowhere – did I mention this house has no driveway or sidewalk or anything anywhere around it in a great big circle? – and they are fighting. Guess. Go ahead. Guess what happens.
Yep. One kills the other. There’s your Cain and Abel. Eventually the guests all get out of the house and She goads Him into sex. So, ignore those “rape” articles. She is immediately pregnant. Time is really out of whack, so roll with it. All is well. He is creating and she is pregnant. And the house is good. Oh, by the way, She can touch the walls and visualize her own heart. As time goes on, it becomes slightly charred looking – and more charred – and more… Symbolism, people, she’s trying to give her love, but it’s taking a toll.
Anyway, he finishes his poem and there is an onset of IMMEDIATE adulation as they are inundated with unwelcome guests that have come to praise and idolize him. They break things in the house and loot like maniacs. They tack up pictures of Him that look curiously like prayer cards. They are a mob destroying the Earth with pollution and ruination, and human trafficking and lots of other bad things.
Meanwhile, She is in labor. She finally gives birth with Him blocking the two of them in his office. But she doesn’t trust Him anymore. He is welcoming this horde of horrors in her house. She has a boy and no way is She going to let Him touch the baby. But how long can you stay awake? Well, time is meaningless anyway. She dozes a moment and catches him with the baby as he opens the door to show his followers. Cue Simba moment.
And then the Baby (you get this, right?) goes crowd surfing because He hears that the mob wants to touch him. A horrific crack signals the beginning of the most awful part of the film. She shoves and pushes through the crowd to find an altar with only bloody bones and people eating bits of flesh. Holy Communion, anyone?
After lots more psychological torture (she has never been able to leave the house), she goes to the oil tank in the basement and burns the house down. Humans have brought ruin to the Earth. Somehow, She is burned, but alive and He literally takes her love in the form of her heart, which he crushes to create another amazing crystal. He will create again. If he could think of something else to create, maybe he wouldn’t have to repeat the story. Maybe if humans didn’t give in to the bad in world, his story would change. But I digress…
The movie can be hard to watch, but I liked it. I scored it a 9 on IMDB. There is a lot to this movie. The acting, directing, cinematography… all top notch. And you have to think. Allegory. It’s a powerful thing.