Director Darren Aronofsky “Mother!” is nothing short of a metaphorical horror, which has left many confused, frustrated and disappointed in the film.
Darren Aronofsky is known for creating disturbingly daring and masterful films in the past and Mother is no exception.
It is not until the central metaphor, the plot and main allegories have been discovered that you can truly appreciate the creativity of Aronofsky’s work.
Unfortunately for many, including myself, plenty of research had to take place to understand what Aronofsky was trying to portray. Sitting through a two hour movie not knowing what was happening the entire time is certainly not many people’s cup of tea. The trailer also gives little away and is just as confusing as the movie. Perhaps this is why the film received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 68% and an audience score of 46%. It is no secret that many strongly disliked the perplexing film.
Both Jennifer Lawrence and Darren Aronofsky have admitted to referring to the movie as “Day 6” whilst in the shooting process. Day 6 is the last day that God worked on his creation of the earth in the Bible. God created man, Adam and Eve and land animals on this day. The earth was complete and beautiful. Aronofsky has explained that the meaning of the title therefore translates to the traditional idea of Mother Earth.
The house in this case was the visual representation of Mother Earth and Jennifer Lawrence is representing the human embodiment of the concept.
With these metaphors and biblical references in mind, the movie’s set-up is deceptively simple. The remote home, miles from civilization that was not-long-ago burned in a fire, yet is now refurbished as the visual representation of Mother Earth. Jennifer Lawrence’s main role in the movie is to refurbish the mansion and take care of the house, God’s creation. Thus, she is representing the human embodiment of the concept. She also undertakes everyday wifely activities such as cooking for her husband, Him (Javier Bardem). Bardem is a very well-known and popular poet, with a large following. Bardem represents God and his writing is his way of preaching to his fans – God’s followers.
Let me enlighten you as best I can before you view the movie. To see it without some explanation will leave you both baffled and disappointed as most were.
The film opens with a woman standing in the midst of burning flames and her flesh is burning, as screams are heard in the background. Bardem is then seen placing a crystal object in a stand in his office. The house is then turned from ashes to complete restoration. Mother is then seen trying to paint one of the rooms she is redecorating and envisions a beating heart within the walls. This scene was the first to spark curiosity for what was to come in the rest of the movie. The beginning of the film however was quite frustrating and difficult to watch. As there is little happening it felt as though the movie was moving extremely slowly with many scenes of silence. Him (Bardem) has writer’s block and Mother (Jennifer) is restoring the house. Although the first half did build anticipation and sparked curiosity for what was to come, it was tedious to sit through and watch. Perhaps many of the slow silent scenes were to provide time for the audience to come to their own understanding and interpretation of the true meaning behind the film so far.
The plot begins to thicken when a strange man knocks on the couple’s front door. Javier welcomes the stranger (Ed Harris) with excitement and open arms however Mother is not as comfortable with his presence. Mother discovers that he is a super fan of her husband and his work and begins to become more uncomfortable with his staying. Man begins to have frequent violent coughing fits that Him tends to. During the strangers’ first night visiting, Mother is woken up to find Man being sick with Him comforting him. Mother notices a piece of flesh missing from Man’s ribs and Him quickly covers this with his hand. Mother begins to worry further and feel increasingly uncomfortable with Man’s stay. Him seems to be leaving Mother in the dark of what is really happening. In this scene, the stranger is supposed to represent Adam from the creation story that God, represented by Bardem, has created that day. The open flesh and missing rib is what Eve is fashioned from in the Book of Genesis.
The following morning, Man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) knocks at the front door. Man’s wife representing Eve is now present in the story. Man’s wife begins to ask Mother many personal and confronting questions about Mother and Him’s relationship and wanting children. Man’s wife then becomes curious with Him’s upstairs office and Mother grows more and more frustrated with Her disrupting Mother and Him’s tranquil way of living. Aronofsky does an excellent job at building the tension between Mother and Adam and Eve. As Mother grows more frustrated so does the audience. Mother knows that something is off about her two guests and no longer wants them to stay.
Man and his wife enter Him’s office without permission and destroy his crystal object. Him is completely devastated and Mother orders Man and his wife to leave. However they do not obey. Him’s office and the crystal object are both mirroring the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve are told to stay away from in the Garden of Eden. When they shatter the crystal object, this ruins Mother and Him’s seemingly perfect existence and is the beginning of the chaos that is to come, just as it is in the bible. It was the original Sin of Adam and Eve.
Man and Woman’s two children (Domhnall and Brian Gleeson) who are playing Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel, now turn up to the house and begin to fight over their father’s will. The eldest son is mad that his younger brother is being left more money. They become violent towards each other and the oldest son causes his younger brothers skull to crack open and bleed. The youngest son is carried out by Him, however dies at the hospital. In the Bible, Cain murdered Abel because God favoured Abel’s sacrifices.
The house begins to fill with people for the wake for the dead son. Mother gets extremely frustrated, upset and angry with people coming into her peaceful space and destroying it. There are couples sitting on unfinished sinks, painting walls they shouldn’t be, spilling drinks and food everywhere and destroying so many areas that Mother had spent so long perfecting. Mother tried to ask them to politely be respectful of her house however no one listened to her. Here is where Mother is portrayed as submissive and unable to fight back just as Mother Earth is unable to protect itself from all the harm that others are doing to the world that was created for us. Darren Aronofsky is also trying to show the effects of global warming on Mother Earth and visually depict the larger issues going on in the world, caused by humans taking advantage of Mother Earth.
Him however, enjoys the company from the many strangers visiting for the wake and doesn’t want them to go.
Mother finds out that she is finally pregnant with Him. Him is suddenly inspired to start writing again and completes a final draft of his work and sends it out to his fans and to The Herald (Kristen Wiig) who is representing the messenger of Him’s (God’s) work to his people.
As Mother nears the end of her pregnancy, she cooks a fancy meal for herself and Him to enjoy in celebration of their happiness and his success when suddenly a swarm of fans and Herald start showing up at their house without Mother knowing they were arriving.
Mother begins to panic whilst Him is so excited that they are here to worship himself and his work. The hundreds of fans begin to barricade through the house and completely destroy everything in sight. People began to break out in acts of violence towards the house and each other. Mother began to break down in anger and sadness towards the strangers disrespecting her house. During all this time Him was busy being worshipped by his adoring fans. He was signing autographs, preaching and taking pictures. Mother wanted them all to leave and didn’t understand why Him wanted them all to stay.
During all this chaos, Mother goes into labour and gives birth to a baby boy who is representing Jesus Christ. She refuses to let Him hold the baby because she no longer trusts him for allowing all his fans destroy their one tranquil home. She held on for as long as she could until she fell asleep and woke up only to realise Him had taken their baby and passed him around into the crowd where they snap his neck, instantly killing him. The baby died and had been mutilated. Fans are now eating the baby which is symbolic of people consuming the body (bread) and blood (wine) of Christ at communion.
Mother runs to the basement towards the oil tank. She breaks it open, lets the oil flow out and sets light to herself and the house. Everyone who was in the house is now dead except Mother and Him. The house has turned to ashes once more after the house exploded in flames. Mother then asked what Him wants from her and he says he wants her love. She tells Him he can have it. Him digs his hands into her chest and pulls out Mother’s heart. Him squeezes her heart to reveal another crystal, exactly like the one that had been destroyed earlier and Mother’s body crumbles away.
The final scene shows Him placing the crystal object in his office. The house is once again turned brand new and a new young woman then forms in the bed, just as the start of the movie played out.
It is probably to your great advantage to either read this review or do your own thorough research before viewing Mother as even the most seasoned movie critics have struggled to interpret this psychological babble. Good luck if you spend your money on this!