I walked into mother! knowing absolutely nothing about the film or the director, Darren Aronofsky. All I knew about the film was that it involved Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as lovers and there were issues. Little did I know that I would watch one of the most stressful films I had ever seen in my life and somehow come out of it loving every minute of it. Why was it so stressful?
Let’s jump into the review!
The story of mother! takes place inside of a large home where the character of ‘mother’ played by Jennifer Lawrence and the character of ‘Him’ played by Javier Bardem, live together. Immediately we can tell there is a disconnect between the two of them with various facial gestures, lack of expressions, and so forth. This is amplified when a man comes to visit unexpectedly and soon oversteps his bounds by inviting his family over.
In the beginning of the film it is made to feel as though we are witnessing the story unfold in reality but small instances occur that are just so bizarre you start to question what is anad isn’t real. All the while, when mother is stressed, she takes a tonic which repairs the mental damage inflicted by the unfolding chaos. As the story move forward it dances between dipping back into a state of normalcy and then escalating beyond belief.
I won’t reveal anything from this film other than the fact that they do their best job to make you feel uncomfortable. Techniques that I noticed were the audio enhancement they gave to all sounds that typically would never be overbearing such as the sound of mixing paint, foot steps, the scratching of a pen or utensils on plates and so on. I found myself cringing repeatedly from the audio alone and every scene would soon follow an uncomfortable scene to help induce more unease in the viewer. While mother! did show an overwhelming amount of scenes that were revolting, the most annoying were the social situations where mother was expected to be kind and gracious but the way everyone treated her was offensive enough to warrant physical violence and yet she takes the abuse. It felt as though you were watching someone being drowned and they had the ability to fight for survival but instead went limp.
From the beginning to the middle of the film I felt heavily that I was witnessing madness without any rhyme or reason, however as the story came to an end so much was revealed about the setting and certain aspects. Ultimately I did end up enjoying this film because I realized it all had such a deep meaning that involves something we can all relate to. After the film I drove home and stayed up all night considering mother! and what each scene or character truly meant. That aspect alone cause me to love it even more.
Jennifer Lawrence does a tremendous job playing mother! as she begins the movie in a troubled place and ends in utter desperation and madness unlike anything I have ever seen before. I give her so much credit for signing on to be involved in such a film and carry it the entire time. The viewer will root for her and scream at her for staying so long in such a terrible situation and going above and beyond to care for him. Javier Bardem always does a fantastic job and continues to do so as him lives his life the way he wishes while still trying to comfort mother as best he can.
I highly recommend mother! to anyone who enjoys the unexpected, appreciates philosophy, and is willing to experience torture for the sake of watching something original. However I can say with complete honesty that I could only watch this film once. Some of the elements in the films caused me to look away in disgust, not so much as though I watched something horrifying but more so that I became so stressed that I felt as though I would snap under the pressure. I do not recommend this film to the weak of heart!