Whilst watching Darren Aronofsky’s latest creation, memories of early film studies started to come back to me. I was reminded of one of my earliest essays about whether a second viewing of a film enhances you’re understanding, the film used was Aronofsky’s Black Swan and I ended the essay with a confident no. in this moment of time, mother! Has torn that conclusion apart because not only is this a fine piece of film with experimental influences, but will possibly be the film most argued over by audiences and critics this year due to the films open book nature to many interpretations about what is being seen.
I have always seen Darren Aronofsky as a mainstream experimental filmmaker due to his overuse of metaphorical imagery combined with what is essentially a mundane premise, but that’s the beauty of his work, he can create surrealism from the most normal premise. In the case of mother! The premise of a couple (Jennifer Lawrence & Javier Bardem) wanting to create their own paradise is easily connectable with the audience which as the effect of comfort before the storm.
Jennifer Lawrence, known in the film as Mother, is fantastic, her performance reminded me of her earlier acting career when she was performing in little indie films like Winter’s Bone. In a perceptibly short acting career, she has left an impression on Hollywood and this performance emulates that reputation. Not only that, you can tell through her delivery that this is a very caring performance both her character and the film itself. In my Pirates of the Caribbean 5 review I said that everything that made Javier Bardem intimidating was taken away. We now get to see the Javier Bardem we’ve come to expect. Simply known as Him, Bardem’ character has a tendency of being very open with other people whom he invites into the house that Mother is rebuilding. Him is more of an extrovert while Mother is an introvert which already has the wheels rolling for the conflict that develops between the two.
What metaphors are explored in mother!. Simple answer is a bit of everything. You have religion, war, terrorism, nature and motherhood just to name a few. Because so many conclusions can be reached and there is no truly definite meaning, mother! is destined to be a film that will be talked about for years to come with film theorists and analysts battling for the true meaning behind it.
The film is set is one location, the house, which has a connection to Mother which again is open to many interpretations. The best two I could come up with is the house is the living, breathing body and soul of Mother. home is where the heart is, quite literally in the case of mother! as we are shown multiple times the image of a beating heart beyond the walls. The second interpretation is that this house is like a baby to the Mother! character through very clever character developing dialogue about having children. Again, this is the rambling words of myself, it is up to the audience to reach their own conclusions.
The experimental nature of Aronofsky’s directorship is also found through the tightened framing. The only times we see an open framing is when other people start to invade the house. We can pick up on the introvert and extrovert nature of Mother and Him through the cinematography of Matthew Libatique and know whose perspective we are looking through.
Surprisingly, mother! has no accompanying soundtrack. This choice sends an indie vibe towards the audience and prepares us for the type of film we expect to see. However, many indie feeling films are usually have a very slow pacing, whereas mother! has a very fast chain of events, the conflict of the narrative is underway in under 10 mins which is incredibly short amount of time getting to know these characters, it is slightly off-putting to the viewing experience but you will start to catch up to the film, even though the films story has an offbeat pace to the film itself.
This is a relentless film because of the placing of the metaphors in the narrative, the first half of the film is quite settling and comfortable as we only get glimpses of surreal imagery, but toward the end of the film, the imagery and metaphors hit you like a plane crash. The constant bombardment of surreal imagery is almost too much to take and that may be certainly the case to some viewers with no easing or manipulating the audience to be ready for such thrilling and often graphic images and comparisons.
In the end, mother! has you grabbed by the neck and refuses to let go. The overpowering style of Aronofsky is not for the faint hearted, but for those who think they can take it, you are treated to a unique viewing experience that will have you arguing about what it all meant. Putting that point to one side, the rest of the films element were above par with excellent cinematography and performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. I not even sure that Aronofsky can comprehend the type of film mother! is, even Jennifer Lawrence has commented that the film when too far. Ultimately that’s for you to decide.