mother! – A Unique Movie Badly Marketed as a Horror Film

Jennifer Lawrence in mother!

Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, mother!, is a unique film to say the least but it should never have been marketed as a horror film nor should it have had a wide release.  Spoilers abound…

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, and Kristen Wiig.

With the exception of the big-budget Noah, Aronofsky is a filmmaker who specializes in art house films.  Much in the same way that art house thriller Drive got a wide release, so did mother! this weekend.  It’s a film that should have been rolled out through a platform release rather than a wide release.

I went into the film reading as little as possible outside of what little was said in the film’s synopsis:  “A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.”

From reading the reactions from my film critic friends, I knew going into screening mother! that I would be expecting a crazy ride.  Oh, it was crazy alright–especially in the final forty minutes or so when all these people keep coming in after another.  Much to Mother’s (Lawrence) dismay, the people refuse to leave and poet Him (Bardem) refuses to kick them out either saying that he wants to share everything with them.  It’s pretty messed up in that regard.  If someone wanted to steal my property without permission, I wouldn’t let them.

I didn’t know what to expect when Man (Harris) comes in uninvited, thinking their house is a bed and breakfast when it clearly is not.  There’s clearly a noticeable scar on Man’s body when he’s throwing up late in the night, likely a rib having been removed which only hastens the arrival of Woman (Pfeiffer) and it’s clear from the get go that Woman and Mother have a dislike for each other.  Both Man and Woman seem to be very interested in a crystal that Him says was the only thing remaining from a fire where he lost everything.  HELLO, TREE OF KNOWLEDGE!  The one thing that they’re told not to touch so what do they do but touch it?!?  It only gets crazier from there!

I was really feeling the biblical allegories when Oldest Son (Domhnall Gleeson) bludgeons the hell out of Youngest Son (Brian Gleeson).  My immediate thought was Cain and Abel just from the way that everything went down very quickly.  Their house alone was a symbol for the Garden of Eden even as it was still unfinished and repairs were still needed throughout the house.

The final forty minutes of the film, when total chaos runs wild, clearly represents the Fall of Man.  The only thing missing was Noah and the Flood…but that movie was already made and it wasn’t all that great to say the least.  One could assume that the fire is representative of the flood.

Aronofsky has always been an interesting storyteller and much to his credit, mother! is no different.  It may be his most polarizing among film critics and movie goers alike.  With an allegorical film such as mother!, it’s to be expected.  Years from now, we’ll still be talking about the film and what it all means.  You need to look no further than the Book of Genesis–albeit without the flood.

Following it’s world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and subsequent screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival, Paramount Pictures opened mother! on September 15, 2017.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

3 thoughts on “mother! – A Unique Movie Badly Marketed as a Horror Film

  1. I agree with the review, but one small point:
    There is a “mini-flood” when the guests at the wake bounce in the kitchen and valves break, and water sprays all over and Mother yells at them to get out.

    Most definitely share your view that this should never, ever, ever have been marketed as a horror movie; though there ARE horrible things throughout the movie, this is more of an allegory on the bible, environment despoiling, etc. than that type of film. It would have been better served in small-box theatres as ell.

    Overall I quite enjoyed it and was discussing it well into the night with my moviemate, so I’d definitely see this type of film again in the future.

  2. I agree, this review is spot on. Fans were clearly misled into believing that its a horror movie and pit it against the conventional horror movies like IT and Annabelle: Creation. Mother! has its own twisted horror/drama genre and fans should enjoy it as such.

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