Mother!

mother-2017-rev

Mother!  (2017)    Paramount/Horror    RT: 121 minutes    Rated R (strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity, language)    Director: Darren Aronofsky    Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky    Music: Johann Johannsson    Cinematography: Matthew Libatique    Release date: September 15, 2017 (US)    Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson, Kristen Wiig.

 

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 About a week ago, Paramount launched a new in-theaters marketing campaign for Mother! promising that Darren Aronofsky’s horror film would “mess you up for life”. It went on to say that you wouldn’t forget where you where the first time you saw it. I don’t know about being messed up for life but it certainly had me going “WTF?!” for several hours afterwards. As the end credits started to roll, my friend and I had no idea what we just witnessed. The following dialogue exchange took place:

Carl: “I’ve got nothing.”

Me: “Same here.”

We talked about Mother! on the way out of the theater and on the ride home. It was during the ride that we did come up with something. However, I’m not going to tell you exactly what and here’s why. Many years ago, I attended an exhibit featuring the work of an artist friend. I liked one of his photos very much and asked what it meant. He replied that he NEVER discussed the meaning of his work. He went to explain that he already knows what it means to him, he’s more interested in how other people interpret it. Everybody sees a piece of art differently. He didn’t want to influence what other people took away from his work. Part of the fun of a weird movie like Mother! is trying to figure out what it means. There’s a great sense of satisfaction when you do come up with something that makes sense. I don’t want to take that away from anybody. Therefore, you are absolutely on your own if you decide to see Mother! which leads right into another big question: should you see it? Once again, I got nothing.

 mother 2017Mother! takes place entirely within a fixer-upper house in the middle of nowhere. It’s occupied by a man known only as “Him” (Bardem, No Country for Old Men) and “Mother” (Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook). He’s a writer who’s lost his desire to create. She’s a sweet sort who’s been doing the fixing-up; the house was destroyed in a fire not too long ago. One night, there’s a knock on the door. Him lets the guy, known only as “Man” (Harris, The Truman Show”) in and invites him to stay over the objections of Mother. The next day, his wife “Woman” (Pfeiffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys) shows up and is also invited to stay. It gets crazy from here on in.

 You no doubt noticed that I’ve only told you what you saw in the trailer. That is intentional. I think Mother! is a movie you have to experience for yourself. Telling you anything else would be prejudicial. However, I am willing to point you in a right direction. Here it is: Know your Bible. That is all.

 Now for a few comments about various aspects of Mother! The acting is pretty good. It has a strong cast and they all do a fine job in their roles. Of course, you don’t realize this until you first assign meaning to the movie. The same thing applies to Aronofsky’s screenplay. It initially appears confused and messy but this too changes once you crack the code. It gets quite brutal near the end. There’s one image so shocking I can’t believe the studio left it in. I can see a few people running for the exits when it comes on. You’ll know it when you see it.

 I have to be honest; I really don’t know if I can recommend Mother! or not. It is one of the weirdest mainstream movies I’ve ever seen. Hell, it doesn’t even qualify as mainstream; this is arthouse horror. I should have expected that from the guy that made Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, Black Swan and Noah. Aronofsky has a filmography almost as bizarre as David Lynch. Noah and The Wrestler are the closest he’s ever come to making a conventional movie. He’s an acquired taste and not everybody likes what he does. I’m already seeing a lot of hate directed at Mother! I get it, most people don’t want to see a movie they don’t understand. It can be frustrating and a test of one’s tolerance. However, there are those who dig a challenge (like me!). It was kind of fun talking about it with Carl and trying to come up with an explanation of the two hours of madness we just endured. If that’s your bag, then have at it. If not, buy a ticket for It.

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