As far as my own opinions of Darren Aronofsky have gone, I think it’s clear enough that I’m not a fan. I like only two of his films (The Fountain and The Wrestler) whereas the rest seem so drenched in showing off how distinctive they are to the point the experience would become agonizing. And it was among many reasons I greatly disliked Black Swan because oftentimes Aronofsky isn’t hiding narrative choices that often resemble better works under a layer of weirdness that ultimately adds up to nothing. But what exactly does one get if they can imagine all the worst qualities of Black Swan cranked up to the maximum? The final result of that is Mother!, because it almost feels like being pummelled by everything about him as a director that continuously has annoyed me.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in what supposedly is a Rosemary’s Baby-esque story about a husband and wife who live together in perfect harmony before uninvited guests come along and disturb their own sense of peace. But at that point, a seemingly simple idea only turns into a blunt Biblical metaphor – something I can appreciate if I ever found myself at any point able to absorb what Aronofsky would have wanted to say but his aggressive storytelling only quickly makes me want to shout because his own point has been made clear. Made clear to the point that it only seems to wear itself thin, and soon enough I want to tune out.
The film seems to be set up nicely, with its confined setting up until Aronofsky quickly bloats the environment into something of greater proportions. Because there was a point to which I had actually found myself on board with Mother!, and soon enough the experience became both frustrating and unbelievably annoying. Whether it be from how Aronofsky seems so anxious to share the lengths to which he can take this premise to grow and become in the weirdest manner, what also follows is possibly the most unpleasant that Aronofsky has grown to become – whether it be the lack of space to breathe within or the sheer exploitation that it revels within, akin to Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan.
Subtlety is the last thing you can ever expect from Aronofsky but in Mother! it doesn’t even work in the same way that the entire ending sequence of Requiem for a Dream doesn’t. As a matter of fact, it only quickly grew to become horribly unpleasant and in an incredibly sickening manner – yet not the sort that went to earn my sympathy. It’s easy to catch onto the metaphors because they feel so surface level, and the idea becomes tiring after its first act where it only starts feeling like a stretched concept. But the final moments are another line that are to be crossed because it seemed almost so malicious with the treatment of its lead character in favour of the metaphor – where it only became sickening to my stomach just to think about all the more, for this whole journey took oneself to nothing.
It seems to be the overall mannerisms to which Aronofsky is treating his characters that only left me feeling sick on the inside as I was watching Mother! because they all feel just like cardboard figures placed the way they are, for the viewers to watch as they suffer. In a simpler term, it’s purely misery porn. And Aronofsky is continuing the way he does because he has no sympathy for his characters. Jennifer Lawrence is bland as always and not even Javier Bardem’s role could make me want to know her any better, I just saw from the fact Aronofsky kept the camera so close to her own emotions that I would only be bombarded with awful things being forced onto her akin to rape. But it’s a Bible metaphor, so everything has meaning, right?
Mother! is the sort of film that I can only say I’d have expected Darren Aronofsky to make at this rate because what I see in the way he tells his own stories is his need to find ways to appear meaningful yet stay unbelievably shallow. If this movie were supposed to be a “feminist” narrative, it quickly contradicts that with the film’s own third act. It just bombards its viewers with a seemingly thought-provoking yet vague statement one after another and that’s the point where I can only say Aronofsky is just going for too much. You know already this is just something so straightforward but Aronofsky insists that it’s the opposite, so he attacks the viewer about the idea for two hours. I could not stand this condescension in Black Swan, so what made Mother!‘s case any better? Absolutely nothing, because you’re better off watching Rosemary’s Baby at least five times more.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Paramount.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Screenplay by Darren Aronofsky
Produced by Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kristen Wiig
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 121 minutes