The last Darren Aronofsky film I saw was Black Swan. I remember the movie being a jarring experience above anything else, but that was part of the allure. Aronofsky isn’t exactly known for his tame writing style. In fact, it has been said of this Mother! that he wrote the screenplay “angrily.”
When he introduced the film at the Deauville Film Festival, Aronofsky said, “I just want to apologize for what’s about to happen. Everyone’s laughing and really liking me right now, but you will not remember a word of this in two hours.”
In a beautiful, sort of work-in-progress home in a field somewhere lives a May/December relationship. She (Jennifer Lawrence) spends her days painting, cooking, and wandering around looking for him. He (Javier Bardem) likes to disappear for hours at a time with little to no explanation of what he’s been doing or where he’s been.
One day, a man (Ed Harris) shows up at their door. He’s a Doctor — maybe a surgeon? — from a hospital not too far away. He’s new and evidently thought they were a Bed & Breakfast. She is wary of their guest, as he is a total stranger, but he takes no issue with housing a newcomer for the night.
After finding her man and the strange man in the bathroom, the strange man hacking up a lung everywhere, she decides to go to bed. I would too. She drinks a nice glass of what I can only assume is Opium and hits the hay.
The next day, their drifter seems to be feeling much better and — surprise — his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) even shows up! She serves up a nice meal to the strange man, his wife, and Him. The boys decide to go for a walk, leaving the ladies alone to bond. The wife gets schnockered on some boozy lemonade — a family recipe — and begins prying.
It gets real uncomfortable, but not quite as uncomfortable as how rude and disrespectful the husband and wife are to her. They break a priceless heirloom and refuse to leave. If that’s not bad enough, their two sons to show up. Things get heated, accidents happen, and someone is rushed off to the hospital.
While Mother — as the character is billed on iMDB — waits for Him to return from carrying the injured party to get medical attention, she gets to clean up an unholy mess. She does this a few times. When He finally does return, she learns that the four person family who invaded their home is down to three. For whatever reason, he tells them that they can bring their extended kin to the home for a post-funeral feast.
Now, I would’ve had to plan my husband’s funeral at this point because I would have murdered him for doing something like that without telling me. I’ve had nightmares where people I don’t know come into my home and just hang out. This movie blasted those nightmares right up on the big screen. Thanks, Darren. Get out of my HEAD, Darren.
Oh, I forgot. He’s a poet. Javier Bardem’s character. Not Darren Aronofsky.
Anyway, he writes this Earth-shatteringly brilliant poem and, within minutes of showing the poem to her, fans are knocking down their door to meet him. People are coming in droves.
From there on out, everything that happens is simply too nonsensical to talk about. Here are some words I would use to describe what happens for the rest of the film:
When Mother! ended, I was angry at myself, I was angry at Darren Aronofsky, I was even angry at the protectionist who isn’t even a person. It’s just the machine that was told to roll that footage.
What’s worse, now, is that every time I tell anyone that I hated it, I get to listen to a diatribe about how I “just didn’t get it” or why I “shouldn’t disagree with it.” I understand the subtext and the context clues and everything in between, I just did not care for this film. Aggressively.
Worst of all, and perhaps most infuriating for me personally, was that they had composer Johann Johannsson on this project and wound up scrapping the score making him the “music and sound consultant”. That is a waste of his time and talent.
I won’t tell you not to see Mother!. I think if you have money to throw away on a ticket to a horrible film that will likely leave you feeling as though you’ve got a hair at the back of your throat that you can’t seem to extract, you should see it. It’s certainly an experience. Just not a good one.