How could I not see Mother! at this point? I couldn’t – so I might as well review it, even though I prefer to review movies on their opening weekend, thus making this blog at least somewhat useful. But with all the controversy, all the talk and the outrage – it was just too much to resist. How rare is it when a movie generates so much negative chatter that the writer/director makes an active, public attempt to explain himself? Pretty rare – hence, I found myself at the theater this fine Sunday morning, checking out the devil spawn.
Let me begin by saying, this movie was on my list to review when I first heard about it, before its release. Any movie that features Michelle Pfeiffer, Javier Bardem, Jennifer Lawrence, Ed Harris, and Kristen Wiig – let alone all five of these people in a horror flick – is one I’ll be standing in line to see.
“Heaton’s outrage over the movie is palpable. The review is titled ‘Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! Is Beneath Contempt.'”
I changed my mind, however, after reading a thoroughly charming review by a fellow named Michael Heaton, who writes for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His outrage over the movie is palpable. The review is titled “Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! Is Beneath Contempt” and is prefaced by a note of warning from the editor: SPOILER ALERT! The following review contains spoilers. Don’t read further if you don’t want to learn some major plot points.
Because the movie has been in theaters for a few weeks, because there’s already been much discussion of it, and because Mr. Heaton was clearly aiming to provide a public service announcement, I will quote his biggest spoiler HERE: “It all comes to a crescendo when she delivers her baby and Bardem gives it to the unruly mob to kill and eat. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.”
I love this guy’s passion. It reminds me exactly of my own outrage over a fake baby-drowning in Ozark, when I, too, wrote a public service announcement spoiler review. I might add, though, that Heaton’s entire review is a spoiler, giving away every detail of the plot, point by point. He was not happy with the time he considered wasted at this movie.
So Mr. Heaton changed my mind about seeing the movie, and only an ongoing heated controversy could have changed my mind back again. For the rest of this review, I’ll briefly offer my own interpretation and make an effort to avoid too many additional spoilers. Although I always try to stay away from other reviews before I write my own, so as not to be unduly influenced, I admit that under the circumstances, I’ve peeked at parts of a few.
“Because I knew beforehand that the mob ate the baby, I was probably not as shocked as I otherwise might have been.”
Because I knew beforehand that the mob ate the baby, I was probably not as shocked as I otherwise might have been. But I think the main reason I wasn’t all that disturbed is that by the time it happens (and it’s not particularly graphic, although it does toy with the viewer’s emotions quite a bit), the mob action has grown so steadily preposterous over the preceding ten to fifteen minutes, that eating a baby just seems like the next logical step.
Some reviewer somewhere has called the movie a “hoot” – and it’s hard to disagree that the mob – which begins as kind of an unwelcome house party growing wilder every moment, eventually including every horror known to humankind, let alone to a homeowner – is pretty darn funny. The movie glibly recalls many other movies, including The Money Pit, Rosemary’s Baby, Groundhog Day, and Diabolique, just to name a few that seem wildly at odds with each other.
Jennifer Lawrence’s repeated, frantic protests at what’s happening around her – “All these people – they’re painting our house!” – and her poet-husband Javier Bardem always working hard to reassure her – “Life doesn’t always work out the way you want it to!” – are precious, and if your nerves can stand the general mayhem and descent into the third circle of hell, you too might find the movie a hoot, at least in places.
“The movie, in the end, is really ‘about’ nothing other than the creative process.”
Widely divergent interpretations of the movie abound, including those that argue Bardem plays a God-figure. I can see this, but don’t think the ongoing relationship with his wife sustains that view. I see, instead, a clear subtheme as the simple descent of an idyllic marriage into reality — but the movie, in the end, is really “about” nothing other than the creative process – a theme that becomes pretty obvious, in my opinion, in the final few scenes.
Whatever. If you’re interested in movies that push the envelope, or movies that are about other movies – or if you’re interested only in the wonderful cast — you might find Mother! an interesting two hours. All the controversy surrounding it, of course, only makes it more so.