I’ve just seen Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!.
Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence play a poet and his wife living in a large house that she has been reconstructing after a fire, whilst he struggles with writer’s block. 1 day a man, played by Ed Harris, and then his wife, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, turns up and starts living in the house, which the poet has decided without asking his wife and which she reluctantly and unhappily accepts. That is when everything changes. The film, however, is not about the couple and the changes they bring. Ultimately it is about the poet, his ego and selfishness, and the obsession with his work and admirers. Aronofsky got the inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby, modified it, took it to extremes, and fucked it up with so-called dream logic.
The chief problem with Mother! is that it’s a mess of a film. About more than half of it, the part with the couple played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, is realistic. This is the good part—it gets on your nerves, it frustrates you, it makes you want to throw things and slap the presumptuous and shameless couple and the thoughtless poet. Even though Jennifer Lawrence’s character sometimes hears things and feels like there’s a beating heart in the walls, it is psychological; this part is still realistic.
Then the film makes a turn. Realism is abandoned for symbolism, everything turns surreal and hysterical, and the later part is ridiculous and unendurable, especially the sacrifice/ cannibalism scene and the heart scene, even though they are meant to be symbolic. More importantly, as Mother! is divided by the 1st part of realism and the 2nd part of symbolism, it loses its dramatic shape, and becomes a mishmash, a hodgepodge of sorts. I can see Aronofsky’s intention, I can see that the film is ultimately about the creative but destructive force in the self-centred artist, which consumes and kills everything. However, the whole thing is a mess, a kind of psychobabble, especially when it ends in full circle. Whilst some critics call Aronofsky audacious or even inventive, I think he got a good idea and then lost control of his material, and then used dream logic as a lazy way of defending it.
A weak film.