If you plan on watching Darren Aronofsky's newest horror film, Mother!, then be prepared to ask yourself what the hell you are watching. A freakshow of a film, Mother! is a well made psychological thriller that will keep you thinking and questioning what happened and what it all means.
This is a dark and surreal film that subtly sends messages to the audience. Everything you see is put in for a direct reason and is made for you to think and decode. I won’t spoil what the messages are since the main joy of watching it is piecing everything together and comprehending the story as a whole. It does a very nice job of steadily dripping details throughout that keep you questioning. It shares similar qualities to Aronofsky's previous thriller films like Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream.
The plot follows a husband (Javier Bardem) and wife (Jennifer Lawrence) who live in a secluded house. He’s a successful writer who’s having trouble creating a new story and she’s excited to work on the house of her dreams. One night, a mysterious man (Ed Harris) shows up at their door and spends the night. The next day, the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) appears. They confess to being fans of the writer and start prying around the house. Lawrence is hesitant to having them continue to stay, but Bardem showers them with open arms and begs them to stay as long as they like. From this point the story starts to delve into the stranger and stranger, revealing dark secrets that culminate in a ten-minute sequence near the end of the film that throws so much symbolism and commentary at you that you won’t be able to comprehend everything you see.
After the start of the film, you can tell that these characters are not just simple humans. They are all unnamed and exhibit specific traits that relate them to famous characters everybody most likely knows of. The real mystery of the story is trying to match which character is which.
The trailers don’t sell this film well because it’s never a true horror film. It’s a creepy psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. People looking for straightforward horror will be sorely disappointed and I would expect at least a few people to leave the theater halfway through at every screening.
The camera is positioned in very claustrophobic spaces and limits the amount of information you get from each shot. This creates a tense film that challenges the audience’s ability to comprehend what is happening and what is going to happen next. Aronofsky reunites with his regular cinematographer Matthew Libatique and creates the usual suspense and creepy feeling from previous collaborations such as Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan.
The actors do their absolute best with the absurd material they are given. Jennifer Lawrence makes the best of her character who continues getting pushed around and trapped in her own home. Javier Bardem plays the usual dominant male that can’t control his ego. He glorifies his success and strives to be the center of everything. Ed Harris is good as a supporting character, but the performance of the film goes to Michelle Pfeiffer as the prying and manipulative visitor. Expect to hear her name in the Best Supporting Actress race.
People will say how much they hated the movie because of its message and how it was sold as a horror movie and didn’t deliver on that promise. I feel that people should treat this film as an experience and then make a goal to convince someone else to see it. Aronofsky has crafted a thriller masterpiece with a perplexing message and unusual style that will have people talking for years. Mother! should be on everyone’s radar as long as it’s available.