By Kristina Valdez | A&L Editor
American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky released “Mother!” the shocking psychological horror film, to the masses on Sept. 15. Aronofsky, known for his work on “Black Swan” and “Noah,” served up actresses and actors Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer to be devoured by criticism and praise from both mainstream movie-goers and film critics.
The feedback has ranged from absolute hatred to adorning praise. It was estimated that “Mother!” would be the most hated movie of 2017 by the Verge, a slap in the face to Paramount Studios after the major release of “It.” A.O. Scott of the New York Times said that “Mother!” had him belly-laughing at what he said should have been a divine comedy.
It is not surprising the level of pushback that “Mother!” received. It was so brilliantly shocking and horrifically absurd that I couldn’t stop trying to solve the intricate puzzle the plot laid out on screen. While A.O. Scott laughed, I cried. I loved the movie.
The simple movie description is a wife’s (Jennifer Lawrence) peaceful home is threatened when unwelcome guests, Man and Woman, (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) stay in their home at the strange hospitable request of the Husband (Javier Bardem). Names do not identify the characters, other than Lawrence’s character, who comes to be known as “Mother.”
Lawrence’s character is attentive, loving and hardworking from the very beginning. She is rebuilding the entire house from a fire while her husband begrudgingly writes to no avail. He suffers immensely from writer’s block while she methodically paints the house.
The giant, unfinished house is isolated in an eerie paradise. The sounds of Lawrence painting the wall and other singular sounds tensed my shoulders, waiting for an inevitable turn in the movie.
But, when Lawrence placed her hand on the wall of the house and closed her eyes and envisioned a beating heart, red and pulsing within the wall, I was hooked.
To get past thinking that the movie is just ridiculous, you need to walk in the theater expecting to unravel the dramatic allegory. I came in with a giant popcorn and wide eyes.
Aronofsky spoke with Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Gay on Sept. 30 about his newest film and the reactions so far.
“It’s a pretzel,” Aronofsky said. “You can eat it from many different ways. It’s still delicious.”
Here is how I ate my pretzel and, indeed, it was delicious.
“Mother” was an attack against religion, Christianity and the nature of humanity. Fundamental moments of the movie alluded straight to the Bible. From original sin to the passion of Christ, we felt the love and anger of God through Mother (Lawrence) who is just as appalled as we are by the guests who become intruders in her home.
The Garden of Eden is a forbidden study upstairs that Mother desperately tries to keep Woman out of. We meet Cain and Abel, and shortly, bid a farewell to Abel. Abel’s blood seeps into the floor of the house, original sin taints the house and unravels Mother’s world.
Husband is the nature of man, selfish and blind. He repeatedly calls Mother his inspiration and goddess, but he abandons her love and affection for the praise of his house guests. At one point, Mother calls the mess left by the house guests an apocalypse, and it soon becomes one.
From the quiet, tranquil beginning, the house of Mother becomes bombarded with cultic feigns pining for a look at Husband while she is pregnant with a child. They tear the house apart. False prophets, wars and crimes against humanity ravage the house as Mother stumbles through heartbroken and in labor.
After an unspeakable act of violence, she screams that the house guests are murderers and spits at Husband’s suggestion to forgive the people.
Mother destroys the house with fire, screaming at Husband that he only loved her because she loved him so much. During this whirlwind of painful scenes, I cried. I felt the anger and hypocrisy that Aronofsky portrayed.
But, the end begins again with the love and ultimate forgiveness of Mother.
It was a giant stretch to take the vileness of man head on, but it worked. However, I wouldn’t see it again—I wouldn’t need to. “Mother!” is the type of movie need only to be seen once and it will stick with you forever.