A slogan for a popular bathroom cleaner says, “We work hard so you don’t have to.”
That applies to what I do as a movie reviewer. I go to movies so you don’t have to.
“Mother!” is one of those movies. It’s weird, disturbing, gross and hard to stomach.
I found something more, but it’s wrapped in such a bad package that I don’t think it will be seen.
The movie is about a poet and his young wife.
When the movie opens, we see a house that’s been destroyed by fire.
The young wife is only called Mother (Jennifer Lawrence). Her poet husband is only known as him (Javier Bardem). She spends her days fixing up the house. He spends his lamenting his lack of creativity.
As the movie moves along, a man (Ed Harris) comes knocking at the door. He declares himself to be a fan of the poet, to which the poet invites him to stay there in the home. This disturbs the poet’s wife, and many strange things begin to happen.
The next day the man’s wife comes to the door. She (Michelle Pfeiffer) is very demonstrative and opinionated. Many of her comments are digs at the poet’s wife.
After her appearance, the couple’s two sons (Brian Gleeson and Domhnall Gleeson) bring a sibling rivalry into the house, ending in tragedy.
All the while, Mother is fretting and watching these outsiders bringing trouble and trauma into her home.
As the movie moves forward, she gets pregnant. What happens after this, I cannot begin to say because it was something very bizarre and horrifying. Needless to say, it is ugly and tragic.
Writer and director Darren Aronofsky stated that the movie is about God and creation.
If you follow that thought process, the poet is God, while it would seem that the man and wife are Adam and Eve. The two boys are Cain and Abel. Which leaves Mother.
Mother, in my opinion, is Mary, because she gives birth to God’s child. But in the end, I think it is hard to know.
I have to lean on something that I found in another movie to inform my view here.
My first time going to Comic-Con was the result of my desire for an answer to a question about the movie, “Cabin in the Woods,” written by Joss Whedon.
I felt that his movie was about the theological concept of substitutionary atonement so I got in line at Whedon’s panel. When my time came, I asked him if the movie meant what I thought and he said, “No.”
Whedon explained that his response was due to not understanding what I was talking about, but that this did not mean the movie did not say that.
Because movies work on many levels, he said that if it worked on that level for me, then it was so.
“Mother!” is hard to garner much meaning. It is very hard to understand. I saw it and I still do not know what it was that I saw.
Given the material in it, I cannot recommend it.
Am I glad I saw it? Yes. Would I see it again? No.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.
MPAA Rating: R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language.
Writer and director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (Mother), Javier Bardem (Him), Ed Harris (Man), Michelle Pfeiffer (Woman), Brian Gleeson (Younger Brother), Domhnall Gleeson (Oldest Son).
The movie’s website is here.