Trojan Tribune

“mother!”

Cole Seager, Staff Writer

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 “mother!” is frustrating. The new film from Darren Aronofsky centers around a nameless wife ( Jennifer Lawrence) and her likewise nameless husband ( Javier Bardem). The husband is a creatively bankrupt poet looking for inspiration. The wife tends to the house and makes sure her husband is happy. One day, mysterious but seemingly kind strangers begin appearing
at their door, looking for a place to stay.
  The premise seems so simple and promising and I was really
entranced for the first 30-40 minutes. I was sure this movie
was really going to be something special. As the film went on, it began to feel less like an actual movie and more like a lecture. Aronofsky quickly forgoes any subtlety, constantly prodding the audience and asking, “Do you get it? Do you get it?” like an eager child, desperate to impress.
  Essentially the film retells stories from the bible with the
husband acting as God while the wife acts as both the Virgin
Mary and Earth itself. Mother Earth. “Get it?”
  The wife walks in on the husband nursing the first of many
guests in the bathroom late at night. She notices a small gash
in his side. The following day, the man’s wife appears at their doorstep. God creating woman from man’s rib. “Get it?”
  Two sons quarreling with one another, verbal altercations leading into physical before one takes it too far. Cain and Abel. “Get it?”
  One thing after another, scene after scene, shot after shot, at
some point you have to realize the film puts so much faith into its symbolism (no pun intended) that eventually the film itself really doesn’t mean anything. In the third act, everything really falls apart and the narrative of the film folds in on itself. It employs a certain dream-logic in the final act particularly that frustrated me. Director Darren Aronofsky has even said that “it kind of falls apart” if you try to unscrew the story. Which brings me to one question: what’s the point?
  The characters aren’t people you’re particularly interested
in because they really only exist to serve the symbolism, not the story. The symbolism in and of itself doesn’t even truly offer much, if anything, new in the end. How many times
has the bible been adapted and retold?
  Aronofsky should know this, he literally just made Noah in
2014. How many times have we been reminded to treat the
Earth well? How many times do we need to be reminded of the “cruelty of man” before it really doesn’t mean anything?
“mother!” has so much going for it. The cast is really fantastic,
even Jennifer Lawrence fits in perfectly. She stumbles through
the film, as she often does, doey eyed and mouth slightly agape; however, here it really fits her character. Javier Bardem is just genius, having a truly commanding and godlike grasp on the audience throughout the film. When he shouts, you listen. When he smiles, you can’t help but smile too. Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Domhnall Gleeson all play their supporting roles to the absolute fullest as well and definitely deserve a mention. The film was shot on 16mm which really brings out the rich, dark tones. Combined with a lot of creative lighting choices, the film is really stunning visually.
 Finally, “mother!” was allegedly written by Aronofsky in five
days, and I can’t help but feel that it’s reflected in the quality of the script and the film itself.
2/4 – Cole Seager

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