You don’t have to be a film geek to know that mother! is getting a ton of hate out there. I really didn’t know much about the movie, outside of the one trailer I saw. From what I gathered, Darren Aronofsky had another psychological mind-fuck up his sleeve, like my personal favorite of his, BLACK SWAN. Jennifer Lawrence looks to be playing a woman losing her mind as a possible schizophrenic being pushed to the edge when two uninvited guests show up at her door. Her husband (Javier Bardem) appears oblivious to the suspicious behavior and dismisses her concerns. From there, things escalate as she begins to experience hallucinations. Don’t continue reading if you haven’t seen the movie yet, as it is impossible to discuss mother! without sharing some important scenes.
Now, that’s what I gathered from the trailer, and felt well aware that there’s a good chance mother! was not going to be a traditional narrative. While Aronofsky does indeed make mainstream movies, he has earned indie cred, as well as made some critically beloved features such as PI and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Apparently, I’m one of the few who saw THE FOUNTAIN, and that was something I considered to be one of the best love stories captured on film. Seriously, what better way to show us how love knows no boundaries? While sometimes his movies are difficult to explain, the experience of watching them has always been something I look forward to. I was unable to see mother! during its opening weekend, but that allowed me to witness the onslaught of negative social media comments. People really hate this movie, which only increased my interest. Critically, the movie was very divisive, as some found it to be great artistic cinema, while others founds it to be pretentious.
Naturally, I decided to see this on a date. I’m still getting to know this person, but I knew the movie itself could possibly spark a conversation. For the majority of mother!, I mainly took the film as a woman coming undone, an allegory for the silent voices that are still out there. Lawrence spends a great deal of time trying to keep her unwanted guests comfortable, and sits back in silence when her husband makes an untrue or rude remark. She makes it known to him of her discomfort, but his vanity takes the best of him, as these guests turn out to be huge fans of his writing. Their worship gives him a great joy that she’s never seen, or been capable of providing for him.
These scenes are where I developed my own emotional connection to the film. I have to get personal and share that I’m an overly sensitive person. Anyone that follows me on social media is probably aware that I crave attention, and maybe validity, from strangers. (Or maybe that’s the point of social media?) One of the worst feelings, though, is feeling ignored, and this is something that hits me hard when it comes to my personal relationships. I have a problem I refuse to address where my moods shift, and tend to last for days at a time. There’s usually some trigger, no matter how insignificant it may seem, but it always fucks me over, and I have to wait it out until I literally will wake up one morning and feel fine, as if nothing ever happened. It’s during these phases that I doubt my self-worth and my ability to succeed as an adult. These feelings have antagonized me since I was a kid, when I would make myself throw up just so I wouldn’t have to go to school, as being around other kids gave me the worst anxiety.
Watching mother! brought back those feelings, as Lawrence beautifully captured a tortured soul who just takes it and takes it. She can barely find her sanctuary, as the foundation of her home is literally falling apart. This world she doesn’t feel she belongs in is being torn apart and disrupted by fanatics who want a piece of her writer husband. When she finds out she’s pregnant, he suddenly looks at her in new eyes, and she finally gets be seen as more than a piece of furniture for visitors to sit on. What makes her finally snap is the death of her baby, who ends up getting eaten by the fans, and her husband still doesn’t give her the reaction and love she needs. It’s right before she burns their world down that she delivers the most heart-breaking line, and realizes that she will never be enough for him. I seriously almost broke down in this scene, and just wanted to be there to burn the place down with her. There’s no peace in this world he created, so what’s the point?
While I couldn’t explain to my date what exactly the ending meant, I didn’t care to try to analyze it. I felt a connection that doesn’t need to be explained, and felt that was far more important than a crystal made of someone’s heart.
Tags: Brian Gleeson, Clint Mansell, Darren Aronofsky, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Harris, Javier Bardem, Jennifer Lawrence, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Kristen Wiig, Matthew Libatique, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stephen McHattie