Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Heads are gonna roll with Darren Aronofsky’s latest dive into the abyss of trash art house filmmaking. The acclaimed director is not shy of dividing moviegoers, he did it with “Noah,” and even more so with “Black Swan,” the difference is those movies managed to showcase his talent as an artist. And here we have “mother!” a film that is, most likely to be, the primo-de facto “love-it-or-hate-it” movie of the season. It’s also a film that extends farther than it’s grasp, even though we have a wonderfully game Jennifer Lawrence in the titular role, the film’s not so subtle, underlying message of human existence and art imitating life extends just beyond's Aronofsky's reach, producing a film that is oddly the most bizarre of the year.
Set in the present day, Lawrence lives in a quiet, shady countryside home with her possessive, loving, and writer husband only referred to as Him (played by Javier Bardem). It should be noted that no character in this film is graced with a name, only pronouns such as “you, him, they, them,” Bardem’s character’s capitalization of “Him” makes sense considering he thinks himself a god among men. The film is told solely through the first person perspective of mother (Lawrence) and, much like the character, we too are piecing this together bit by bit.
When a seemingly random gentlemen called “man” (Ed Harris) arrives at the doorstep, a crazy fan looking for a place to shack up for a couple days, Him immediately accepts his invitation and like Lawrence we immediately think “what the hell?” But since the movie is just starting, we buy into this because we want to see where this train is headed. It’s a scenario where we know we shouldn’t, but the temptation is hard to resist.
Things start to get even more weird when “man’s” wife shows up the next day (a sexed up Michele Pfeiffer) and suddenly we have a houseful of unwanted guests. You can feel the tension long and before these guests start arriving, (everyone’s favorite Weasley brothers Domhnall and Brian Gleeson stop by as the two troubled sons searching for answers). At the risk of spoiling too much I'll just stop there. The problem is, I don’t think “mother!” knows how to execute its allegorical message. The whole movie just feels like a reflection of Aronofsky's ego staring back at us, winking, giving the idea we understand what’s happening. Meanwhile there are many plot mechanics that never add up, like the disappearance of certain characters without any explanation.
“Mother!” extends its hands more often than not, with moral ambiguity that only comes to light when the film reaches the climax (and it takes some HEAVY digging to reach that point). The third act alone is a madhouse that goes from squirrelly, to innate, to total off the wall bananas. The whole trifecta of which is presented like a circus inferno on steroids. This movie never knows when to quit.
The obvious comparison that everyone will draw from is “Rosemary’s Baby” for this generation, which is fair in it’s own merits. I understand and support realism in cinema, and I can recognize directors going for guts rather than glory. No doubt, it’s totally up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions on what they just saw (as a side note: I probably mouthed the words “WTF” to myself at least a dozen times). And some will defend the movies morals about the suffix of what artists sacrifice as humans. The whole dilemma of “Can nothing stand between you and your work? As an artist?” All of it’s gobbledygook that will be eaten up like yesterday's newspaper. I can see it now, everyone dissecting how intimate and “true to life” this picture is, which is fine. Because, when the dust settles, and you put together the dots on display (even if it’s not today or next year). Eventually, once you find the crux of this Looney Tunes conundrum, the real question we need to ask ourselves is: was it worth the gamble? C-