mother! - Review

mother! has been a very important film for me, for many reasons. For one, it is an incredibly made movie, with one of the most disturbing stories I have ever seen in a film. It also helped reignite my creative spark, and has brought me back to a place where I love to watch movies again. 

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Plot

mother's greatest strength is no doubt its plot. I won't spoil anything for those who haven't seen the film, but I will say I have never seen a story told like the one in mother!. The film, from my perspective, is an allegory for several things. One, the book of Genesis and the birth of Christ Jesus in the Bible. Several scenes create strong parallels to stories in the Bible, such as the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, and the birth of Jesus Christ. As a Christ follower, I found these parallels massively interesting, as they allowed a look into the psyche of director Darren Aronofsky. Another aspect of the film focuses on the egotistical mind of a creator. Javier Bardem's character is a poet, a creator, who struggles with finding fame, and once he has found it, refuses to let it go, no matter how much it hurts his wife and the life she has built for the two of them. The third and final symbolic meaning of the film, I believe, is a look into the personal life of director Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky himself, is a creator, a controversial one at that, and also happens to be in a relationship with Jennifer Lawrence, the star of the film. After knowing this, it was impossible for me to ignore the idea that this film could in part be a commentary on Aronofsky's own relationship with Lawrence. Another odd parallel, co-star Javier Bardem is the same age as Aronofsky, 48 years old. 

Performances

mother! is full of excellent performances from the entire main cast, as well as several small characters thrown in in the last 30 minutes of the film. Lawrence is the driving force, proving she can more than handle a movie of this magnitude, and a noticeably more grim one than her past works. There are some who criticize Lawrence's performance in the film, stating that she didn't have the acting chops to carry the film, especially through the end. I can safely say I totally disagree with these statements, and that Lawrence is truly amazing in the film, turning in an Oscar worthy performance. Bardem stuns in his first truly great role since No Country for Old Men as the perfectly cast husband to Lawrence, giving an excellent, extremely developed character who I was never sure if I liked or not. In the end, that is the majesty of his performance, as it was in No Country for Old Men; while he often plays the villain, I can't help but be excited anytime he's on screen, anxious to see what he does next. 

The supporting cast are equally incredible, notably Michelle Pfeiffer's character, who steals every scene she is in, turning in an incredible late career performance in a role that could only have been written for her. I wouldn't be surprised to see her with the best actress in a supporting role trophy the time Oscar season comes around. Kristen Wiig enters the film near the end, and brilliantly uses her public perception of being a funny, generally light hearted actress against the audience, giving a brief yet terrifying performance. 

Style

mother! is an incredible film from a stylistic standpoint. The film uses sparse yet magical special effects to illuminate points, such as the visual of a beating heart inside the house where the film takes place. Near the end of the film, the visuals take a massive leap in screen time, and the house begins to change, giving the set design team a difficult task. The speed at which the house changes is awe inspiring to me, and wisely uses mostly practical effects to show the transformation. The camerawork is equally incredible, as the film was shot by frequent Aronofsky collaborator Matthew Libatique. The film hardly ever strays from head-shots of Lawrence, causing the viewer to never fully understand where the film is going, as we realize things in real time, as Lawrence does. This creates an amazing feeling of tension, and more than a few scares, as it is almost impossible to predict what is going to happen next.

It should be said that this is a very dark movie, as anyone who has seen an Aronofsky film would surely expect. This is not a movie for everyone, yet I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to see something totally unique, just be prepared for some very disturbing visuals. 

Summary

mother! is a triumph in every sense of the word. The film nails its complex story in a way I have never seen in a movie, and turns in some of the best performances I have ever seen the actors give. The film also strikes a pleasant balance of terrifying imagery and a feeling of comfort, to the point where you never know if you can relax while watching the film. In short, this is a one of a kind movie.