Mother! follows a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who is tortured by the odd behavior of her husband (Javier Bardem) and the newfound guests in their house. As the awkward escalates into the unsettling, Lawrence tries to cope with her ever-increasing anxiety. The situation worsens to the point of a snap of sanity. Can she regain control of her house and husband, or are they doomed to fail?
Mother! follows right in the vein of Aronofsky's other darkly and disturbingly artistic visions like Black Swan and to a lesser extent The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream. The guy has gotten into a groove that is defining his career as the living embodiment of Vincent Cassel's conceited and self-absorbed character in Black Swan, in which Aronofsky's scripts and directing ooze creative pretentiousness in every moment. But it is creative.
I don't want to bash Mother! as a film itself, as it is a cinematic achievement in a virtually unrecognizable genre, but it is clearly another piece of evidence of just how much Aronofsky thinks of his brain. Having said that, let's take the director out of the equation for a moment and appreciate Mother! for what it is. The film plays out like a dark drama with David Lynchian qualities that disconnect you from reality with surreal behaviors of the characters. It's a film that is wholely disturbing without boasting much literal action until the final act.
It is incredibly difficult to discuss the film further without spoiling the plot's inherent metaphors. But before diving into that, I will mention that Lawrence does a fantastic job of carrying the film, as the story is solely from her perspective and her experiences inside the bizarre happenings of her home. Not to be dismissed from those praises are the performances of Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. All of which filled the shoes of their respective parts perfectly.
This film is simply a rehashing of the Bible's key moments, focusing primarily on early events in Genesis, the birth of scripture itself and Christ coming into the world. The element that throws the whole analogy off is Lawrence's portrayal as Mother Earth. In the film, she gives birth to the Christ character, which, for me, is not conducive with the plot, as either she is now fulfilling two roles or redefining the narrative.
Aronofsky admitted to writing this script in a matter of days when we was angry. As far as I know he doesn't specify who or what he is angry with. Is he mad at God for His apathy towards His creation and/or desire to be worshiped? Or is he mad at humanity's mistreatment of Mother Earth at their infatuation with God? The film gives clues that it's both, but mostly it appears to be anger towards God in vein of the famous Epicurus philosophical argument:
If God is unable to prevent evil, then he is not all-powerful.
If God is not willing to prevent evil, then he is not all-good.
If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?
So where does evil come from with an all-good, all-powerful God? Is humanity destined to fail over and over in the model God has designed? From Aronofsky's perspective, God is making a mistake somewhere down the line. His passion on the matter is poured onto the screen, but anger towards an omnipotent being is a futile use of energy, even on screen.
The film isn't inherently horror to me. It has an atmosphere that resembles horror, and the final moments house scenes that will be difficult for many to watch. It is a psychological roller coaster that belongs amidst films of its caliber, but it lacks the gumption to take things further because of the commitment to its metaphorical vehicle. I couldn't recommend this film to many. The film may be too pretentious for some horror fans, too dull for others, and too intense for many that could be offended by its message. It falls into an awkward category that, despite its many strengths, can't find an audience beyond self-absorbed critics that will take it as an opportunity to round-about pat themselves on the back for picking up on the allegories.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 8/10