You give, and you give, and you give. It’s just never enough.
But if you wanna
find hell with me
I can show you what it’s like
Till you’re bleeding
Not about to see your light
Fancy that this film never uses any names. Just he, she, them, her, him, mother, father, writer, murderer, bastard, cunt.
If you’ve seen one Darren Aronofsky film, you’ve seen them all. They are all depressing as shit. Most of the time they have a sad ending. But they are also difficult to stop watching. He knows how to get the audience’s attention and how to keep it. Although my patience was getting tested during the middle portion, he kicked things back into high gear (as usual) during the last act. Even if it’s one of those acts where you’re wondering just what the hell is going on (like the first 15 minutes of The Fountain). But he’s a director who knows what he’s doing, and he always makes his films with regard to art first, money second. And there aren’t enough directors that are like that.
This is one of those films where you can’t take things at face value. You need to look at things from a metaphorical standpoint. This becomes obvious during the opening act, up to when the first line of the film is uttered: “Baby?” Fitting for a film titled “Mother!”, with an exclamation mark.
Oh right, and I have to admit, this film had one of the better trailers going for it that I’ve seen in a while. A trailer that showed very little, yet enough to let you know that this is going to be a film that seems calm on the surface, yet even at surface-level there is something off about it. It becomes more apparent that something very wrong has happened, or is going to happen, with the audio bits thrown in. The only downside is the “exciting” footage bits during the last few seconds:
Anyway, yes, there will be spoilers in this review.
So the film is all about the Mother, played by Jennifer Lawrence (I’ll get back to her, the actress not the character, later). She has a relationship with the house she resides in with her husband. Said to have rebuilt/repainted the house from after it had burned up previously, caring for the house as if it were her own child. At the same time, she resides in the house as if she’s living in a womb, never venturing outside of it, save for a few instances where she steps onto the porch. And gets agitated easily when anyone other than her husband is in the house. And every time a stranger enters the house, they cause something to happen that would damage it. It starts out small, from strangers who want to smoke inside, to spilling food on a pan, then to breaking irreplaceable objects (as well as those that are replaceable), to eventually flat out decimating the place by the film’s end. Virtually all the strangers are cunts and assholes.
It’s apparent that there’s also a rift in the relationship with the husband, who looks (and likely is) twice her age. She loves him, but he tends to show disinterest towards her and her wants most of the time. She wants privacy with him, but he wants less confinement and more social interaction with people other than his wife. He seems to enjoy hanging with anyone other than his wife, while she hates just about everyone else who enters the residence (but, like I said, just about all of them are dicks, so she has justification).
And then there’s the supernatural element to this. At first, I thought this woman was hallucinating, especially since she’s drinking this weird yellow powdered shit. Guess she’s having what Peter Weller was having.
But then it turns out she’s not hallucinating (at least that’s my interpretation; this film is open to that). She listens to the walls of the house she touches, and hears/feels/sees a heart beating, a life within the house. The house itself is alive. She tries to keep it as healthy as possible, no thanks to the strangers. With each disturbance with the strangers, the house tends to fall apart. Burns start to form, holes are made in the floor, some weird organism can be seen in the toilet, among other things. As if the house is slowly falling back to its burned state.
The mother cares for the house in a materialistic way, while the husband tends to care for very little materialistically (including that which the mother makes herself, for both of them). And the strangers only really give a damn about the husband.
Eventually, by the time the film is near its end, it becomes clear that the husband isn’t human (if we’re to interpret things as real with what the mother sees). What with him surviving things he shouldn’t be able to survive, and his adoration for fans and followers, and how they seem to range from somewhat reasonable to downright fanatical and mad. He’s a prophet, or a god. “I am I.”
The religious themes to this, of life and death, and life again. The constant toiling away and giving towards the husband/god you serve, all for it to be tossed away like it’s nothing. All that matter to him is the word, and the sacrifices. The many lives we see, from high-class individuals near death, to book agents, to regular people, to preachers and mindless followers, cults, criminals, prisoners, sex slaves, doctors, etc. He giveth, and He taketh away.
If one is to consider deeper meaning into the film, one has to consider potential perspectives outside that of the mother. Though that isn’t necessary for a first viewing, as the entire film is based on the perspective of the mother. The tight camera angles Aronofsky used for portions of The Wrestler and The Black Swan are taken full-tilt here. Just about every shot is done in close proximity to the mother, keeping it personal and claustrophobic, as if in a womb. It’s always either from her perspective, or kept uncomfortably (in an intentional way) close to her face. And, I have to admit, the camerawork is quite impressive at times, especially some of these circular shots that circle around as Lawrence is turning. Makes me wonder how they pulled off some sequences without having the cameraman fall over a sofa or something.
The other perspective to consider is that of the husband, the father, the prophet, the god. Does he not love her, or does he love everyone and because of that doesn’t treat her with much more favor than he does strangers? That’s about as far as I’m going to go with his perspective on things.
The bottom line is that this film is about the oppression of the mother. The sacrifices she makes, the work and toil she does out of love, and how it goes unappreciated. A message towards religion in general, questioning why one should love a god who doesn’t appreciate the blood/sweat/tears, who doesn’t treat anyone better than anyone else, not even those who are not wicked. How the intimacy one shares with him doesn’t mean much in the long run if it’s as expendable as the materials in the house.
And yet there is one material item he values among all others, that of this crystal. It’s the one item he becomes enraged about when it breaks. The mother gets enraged when just about anything in the house breaks, let alone any harm that may come to her child, yet the father only cares about the crystal. Less easy to replace, yet it can be replaced. How unfair he is. And from the mother’s perspective, how cruel.
So, about Jennifer Lawrence herself. She isn’t exactly my favorite person in the world, to say the least. So I did my part, I put that all aside while watching the film to view it as it is, a work of art, to be judged as such. Watching her not as the real-life person she is, but as the character she is portraying. And I’ve done so. Now for going outside the box, to address her, and one of the reasons that this film turned out to be a box office bomb. Despite what some twats may tell you, this is not a terrible film. It’s an artsy film, and artsy films tend to get trashed on just on principle. However, that’s not the only factor that caused this film to bomb. It was Lawrence herself. How big of a factor that ended up being, I don’t know, and we’ll never know for sure. But consider stuff like this, blaming the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida on the election of Donald Trump, unfairness/inequality of the gender gap in America. Though in all fairness, channel 4 news goaded her into answering these questions:
So it’s reasonable to consider that some people didn’t take too kindly to that, not to mention other times she bad-mouthed Trump and his supporters in the past (of which I am one, though that may not last), and so many opted not to go see the film. Many interpret the film as Lawrence’s character being a symbol/metaphor for mother nature, “Him” for god, and all the strangers as humans wrecking havoc upon the Earth, and thus the film is pro-mother nature, anti-man, anti-religion. I say that’s one way to interpret it, and the film is open to several interpretations, as all works of art are.
But anyway, yeah, this actress is on my shit-list, among others. But I’ll not have that stop me from enjoying a film she/they is/are in. That will just stop me from shelling out money for it (I have perks where I work to where I can watch films without needing to drop cash for them), at least for a while. The thing is, I’m conflicted about holding back money from films that I believe deserve it. On the one hand, there is no stronger way to make corporations listen to you then by voting with your wallet, and thus expressing the dismay for Lawrence that way, hence why her last few films from Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2 and onwards haven’t done that well at the box office, thus creating a trend with each film she is involved in. On the other hand, that is also causing others who put their hard work and effort into the film to suffer for it as well. The director, the other actors, the screenwriters, producers, those who make the special effects, etc. Not everyone involved in films like these are as politically outspoken as the lead actor/actress, and it just doesn’t seem right to me that they all should sink with the outspoken ones. On the other hand, what other way is there to get them to listen to those who are dismayed with Hollywood and lead actors/actresses/directors expressing their hatred for people like me who didn’t hold any ill will towards them up until they expressed it towards us?
Well, it is what it is. I watched it, enjoyed it (for the most part, save for a middle act that had me checking my watch), I reviewed it and gave my honest opinions about it, and I can recommend it. But it’s a recommendation with this warning in mind, about the power and responsibility viewers have with how they use their money and who it goes to should they spend it on a film. Because without viewers who are willing to shell out cash for films, the film-makers, film studios, actors, and actresses, would be nothing.