“Mother!” review: Worst movie of the year?

By Camile Montano | gargoyle@flagler.edu

When the credits for the movie “Mother!” rolled, instead of getting up, I sank into my chair and watched the audience walk past me.

Everyone had the same confused, dazed expressions that both my mother and I had. It wouldn’t be too far off to bet that we all had the same thought: “did that really just happen?”

The movie “Mother!” is one of the most creative, well-written, and well-directed movies of the year, but it is also one of the most insane, volatile, and for some, the most infuriating. Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, “Mother!” stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a nameless couple who live in a remote countryside house. Bardem is a famous poet who suffers from writer’s block, while Lawrence plays his doting, quiet wife who is struggling to refurbish their home. Their peace is ruined though by the arrival of a mysterious couple, played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. From there, the couples’ life starts to unravel piece by piece.

If you’re sick of the jump scare fest the horror genre seems to have become in the past few years with films such as “The Paranormal Activity,” “The Conjuring and “Annabelle series, well “Mother!” is definitely a good cure for that. The movie relies on close-up camera angles, dark cinematography, mystery, suspense and sometimes just sheer silence to put the audience on the edge of their seats for two hours.

Somehow, the film never feels like it’s two hours. It does a good job of switching tones from a quiet, psychological thriller to a loud, dream-like mind bend. After “Mother!” had ended, I could just feel the movie at the back of my mind as my brain was processing what I had just watched. “Mother!” is probably the best example of what a psychological horror film should be–the more you think about it, the scarier it becomes.

Lawrence–technically the main character since the camera follows her perspective–has a hard time balancing the whole quiet, yet emotionally wrecked housewife wife act. To counteract Lawrence, Bardem, Pfeiffer, and Harris are all solid performers as they were emotive, charismatic, and even funny at times. The problem is that Lawrence has the most amount of screen time while Bardem, Pfeiffer, and Harris don’t nearly have as much time as they deserve.

Now, this film has been getting a lot of heat from viewers for either being pretentious or just plain disturbing, with an audience score of 45 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. While I don’t agree with the pretentious complaint, I can understand and somewhat agree that the movie can get disturbing, mostly toward the end. The big scene that will definitely make or break this film for a lot of people is at the end, and while I won’t say what exactly happened, it did involve a very violent act and a young child which did turn me off, but judge that one for yourself.

“Mother!” is a movie where it’s best to go in blind on specific plot details. Just know that everything, including all of the characters, is a metaphor. While I won’t give away the ultimate meaning of the film, it does delve into specific societal problems we face today. This may seem initially pretentious, things are not symbolic just for the sake of being clever (cough *”Interstellar”* cough).

At the end, the creators started giving out more obvious clues as to what exactly is going on, however it makes me wish they had just kept up with the subtlety. Once you figure out the film as a whole, the message is a good one. However, the slightly dark, foreboding, and nihilistic vibes from “Mother!” will stay with you even after you leave the theater.

I definitely don’t see myself watching this movie again, but it’s an experience that I won’t forget nor regret. In spite of my personal opinion, I do recommend you still go see it. It’s unlike any film you’re going to see in theaters this year. “Mother!” will give you a thought-provoking and insane horror movie experience you won’t soon forget.

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