I don’t know how I feel about this movie. It looks interesting, but I’m on the fence on whether or not it actually is. I only say this because I’m not entirely sure what this movie’s about. Maybe I’ve only seen one trailer, but it’s not entirely easy to understand.
The story looks like it’s about this married couple and their peaceful, quiet life is suddenly interrupted when some house guests arrive who are shady as hell. I guess they’re there for the husband, but the wife ends up getting attacked or something. I have no idea what’s going on. It looks and feels disturbing, but because I can’t grasp what this is about, I can’t say I’m overly thrilled.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jennifer Lawrence (PASSENGERS , and the upcoming DARK PHOENIX ) and Javier Bardem (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES , and the upcoming BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN ).
In support, we have Ed Harris (RULES DON’T APPLY , and the upcoming GEOSTORM ), Michelle Pfeiffer (THE FAMILY , STARDUST , BATMAN RETURNS , and upcoming films MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS  and ANT-MAN AND THE WASP ), Domhnall Gleeson (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS , EX-MACHINA , and upcoming films AMERICAN MADE  and STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI ), Brian Gleeson (LOGAN LUCKY , ASSASSIN’S CREED , and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN ), and Kristen Wiig (DESPICABLE ME 3 , and upcoming films HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE SECRET WORLD  and TONI ERDMANN, no release date announced). Umm… I’m getting the feeling that this is a dark comedy.
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Darren Aronofsky, known for NOAH (2014), THE FOUNTAIN (2006), and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000). Composing the score is… oh, no one. This movie doesn’t have a score. Hmm… news. Then we’ll wrap this up with the cinematographer, who is Matthew Libatique, who is known for THE CIRCLE (2017), IRON MAN (2008), and the upcoming A STAR IS BORN (2018).
Overall, I’m interested, but not particularly excited. I’m hoping it’ll be a trip.
This is my honest opinion of: MOTHER!
The story follows a husband (Javier Bardem), who is a writer poet amidst a terrible writer’s block, and his wife (Jennifer Lawrence), who is a loving wife. They enjoy their peaceful and quiet life as he struggles to find inspiration to write and she attempts to fix their home after a burning years ago. However, their tranquil life is upended when a strange man, a doctor (Ed Harris), pays them a visit thinking their home was a bed and breakfast. The husband invites him to stay in their home, against his wife’s wishes, but concedes to the hospitality. But before long, more people come into their home and chaos ensues, involving murder, theft, and cults.
UUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would honestly have rather watched THE EMOJI MOVIE. Not one shred of that statement was sarcasm. This is one of the worst films I’ve seen all year.
It’s probably best to mention a little something before anyone sees this. Aronofsky has stated that this movie’s story is based on dream logic and has basically admitted that if you try to figure it out, or try to find any explanation, or expect an explanation, then the movie will not be as enjoyable. Here’s the thing about that, though. I doubt a majority of the audiences seeing this movie are doing their homework and are going into this film equipped with that nugget of knowledge. So without truly knowing how to prepare for what they’re in for, then you’ll get someone like me and a majority of the audience I went in with: hating it.
The movie starts off with a confusing first impression, likely trying to forewarn you of how bad it is, by setting itself on fire. I should have ran out of the theater right then and there, but I’ve sat through terrible films before, so I wasn’t about to start.
After the torching scene, it doesn’t start terrible, I guess… unless you realize that Aronofsky has a fetish for Lawrence’s boobs. One of the first shots of her is a painfully obvious “nipple poking through her see-thru top” shot. They hold on this shot too, as if purposely drawing attention to them. But fine, I’m a pig who’s just staring, right? Women don’t need to wear bras in the comfort of their own homes. It just adds to the raw realism of home-life, I guess. But when I’m looking around for someone, I’m not standing awkwardly in the doorway, I’m walking down the halls, physically looking in the rooms. Fine, she does that eventually, but again, all after an obvious shot of her areolas poking through her top. Oh, and you do get a brief glimpse at… everything toward the end. While I know it’s not for titillation or anything, but I couldn’t help but think to myself… Hey, Seth MacFarlane! All you had to do was wait a few years! And I’m not talking about the hacked phone fiasco, so shut up.
But let’s face it, if Lawrence’s boobs were the worst part of this movie, I’d say this was a downright poetic film. Instead, because they’re probably the best part of the movie, that should speak volumes about how bad this movie is because from this point on, the movie is pure frustration. A doctor comes to their home thinking that they’re a bed and breakfast. That’s… a leap because the house looks like a house. An expensive house, sure, but I think you’d have to be a particularly special kind of stupid to think it to be a hotel in the literal middle of nowhere! Fine if you want to invite the man in, I guess there are some people who are that hospitable to let strangers into their homes, but nothing excuses anything from this point on. Bardem invites the doctor to sleep in their home. Yes, a man they’ve know for less than ten minutes is invited to stay in their home. Only Lawrence is befuddled by this and for good fucking reason. Bardem must be on some seriously awesome drugs to be so okay with making decisions without consulting his wife, and to use the excuse, “he has nowhere else to go” is a frustrating excuse. First of all, bullshit. They may be miles away from any city, but any city would have a motel to stay in. Send him on his way, he’ll be fine and Lawrence is just bending over backwards with it. Not once does she speak her mind to Bardem. He completely ignores her, or completely oblivious to her feelings. You tell me which is worse.
The next day, the doctor’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) appears and is suddenly allowed to stay as well. This woman is beyond intrusive, drinking Lawrence’s booze, judging the way she’s fixing up the house, and demanding to see inside Bardem’s private study, where no one is allowed, and even has the audacity to tell her that she should have children. Um… fuck you too, bitch. Of course, at some point, the doctor and his wife go into the study anyway and poke around at his priceless jewelry, which of course is dropped, but the amazing thing is that the wife thinks “I’m sorry” is enough to be forgiven, even as Lawrence is kicking them out of the house. Then the doctor and his wife start to have sex, which… yeah, they’re being kicked out, supposed to be packing their bags, but instead get frisky. Lawrence walks in on that, by the way, and walks away to give them privacy.
That’s all this movie is: people coming into her house unannounced and uninvited. Bardem is happy to have them in for no reason at all, and Lawrence barely does anything to assert herself. She never calls the police, she never argues with her husband, and she never leaves him. Even when she does all these things, it’s never until much later in the film where the actions mean very little, and the lack of success that she has with each of these is remarkably forced in how they don’t work. She calls the police, the phone is ripped off the wall by a crazy person. The situation spirals out of control, culminating in the formation of a cult formed after Bardem wrote a really good poem.
Now in order to properly complain about this, I have to dive into the deep end of spoiler territory. This is going to hurt me.
We learn that the reason why Bardem has been so open to everyone in to his house is because he “wants to breathe new life into this house.” Um… when was this a thing in his personality? As far as we learned, he was just a writer deep in writer’s block. Nothing about him seemed like he was lonely and just wanted more friends. And even if that was the case, writers are allowed to go into town and find social settings to make new friends in. There’s no reason to invite strangers into the house where your wife is and you’re pretty isolated from society in the off chance that your “friends” turn out to be homicidal crazies. On the flip-side of that coin, if the idea is to have a child, then you’d ought to understand that this is a process that you can’t rush. Can Lawrence even have a child? Are you? Maybe you’ve simply been unlucky up to this point, as we do learn that Lawrence does eventually get pregnant with his child. So hold your damn horses!
See what’s happening? I’m drawing conclusions and trying to figure things out because the movie is offering something that the audience is supposed to figure out. And yet, we’re not supposed to think about it too much, but the movie is giving us something to think about. We’re not supposed to expect an explanation for anything that’s happening, but an explanation is given anyway. You see the problem?!
You know what I think this movie was trying to be? A visual fantasia. What’s that, you may ask? It’s a word I made up, but here’s the context. Disney’s FANTASIA (1940) is where my phrase is derived from. FANTASIA is a collage of short animation films. It’s not a documentary, but it’s not story based in the way that everyone understands it. Some of the shorts have stories, like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and others are just an exercise of beautiful animation mixed with classic music, like “A Night on Bald Mountain.” That’s explained from the very beginning. So when I say something like a “visual fantasia,” I mean that the movie in question exists just to experiment with visuals. It’s not about story. It’s not trying to have a story. It’s ocular appreciation, nothing more.
That’s what I think Aronofsky was trying to go for. He was going for disturbing imagery, and he’s got that in spades here to be sure. Lawrence gives birth to a baby, the baby is given to a cult, the baby’s neck is broken, it’s butchered and eaten, Lawrence is beaten after murdering those responsible and her clothes torn in the process, eventually resulting in her setting the house on fire. But where Aronofsky loses me is when context is given to everything. There’s clearly a story that he wants to tell in addition to the imagery, or maybe he didn’t want to initially and the studio made him include a story so that there’s something commercial about it. I won’t pretend to know, but that’s what I’m taking away from this. Whether or not his vision was tampered with, this movie makes no sense.
And that ending. Lawrence lights herself on fire, having enough of the shit she’s endured, causing the house to explode, Bardem is 100 percent okay, Lawrence is charred extra well done, and Bardem rips out her heart jewel, or whatever the fuck, and then a different actress wakes up, but in the exact same fashion as Lawrence. The exact same movements, lines, turning of the head, I don’t get it! I really fucking don’t! Was all this a DALLAS (1978 – 1991) reference? It was all a dream? Or maybe MEMENTO (2000)? Does Bardem get himself hitched every few years, get himself a baby to sacrifice, and his cult returns to drive his latest squeeze insane to get her heart jewel?! What the fuck?!
Seriously, what are audiences supposed to take away from this?! Was this supposed to be a trippy ride? It was a trip, but not a pleasant one, or certainly a thought-provoking one. Fine, my brain isn’t calibrated to understanding fucked up shit. If you saw this and took something away that was smart, bold, and forward-thinking, then sweet. Good for you. Enlighten the rest of us, if you don’t mind. In the mean time, save yourself your own psychological meltdown and avoid this movie!
My honest rating for MOTHER!: 1/5
UPDATE (11/9/2018): Having done my research, I’ve discovered what this movie was trying to be. It’s an allegory for the biblical story of Genesis, which I did not know going in, nor did I figure it out while I was watching. I have not read the story of Genesis, so I would never have picked up on what this movie was going for. With the parallels in mind, I no longer hate the movie as I did when I first saw it, but that doesn’t mean I would watch it again. As a standalone story, it doesn’t quite work for me. I may be able to appreciate some of the trippy imagery, but overall, I can’t say that it’s still worth watching a second time.