Reel Shorts | mother!

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

A couple has issues with themselves and the world in mother!

After a disturbing dream, Jennifer Lawrence wakes up and notices her lover is gone from their bed. Worried and unsettled, she rises from the bed and goes to find her partner Javier Bardem. Standing on the porch of a large beautiful secluded country home she searches the landscape for him. Bardem suddenly appears and tells her that he just had to be alone for a while. Bardem is a published poet who is struggling to find an idea for a new poem. Lawrence is the woman who strangely never leaves the house and is responsible for the reconstruction and upkeep of that same house.

That same day, a lost doctor (Ed Harris) arrives on their doorstep. Without even a discussion about it with Lawrence, Bardem invites the doctor to stay the night. The next day, the doctor’s wife, Michelle Pfeiffer arrives and then their sons and soon the sanctity of the house is invaded with dozens of people. The invading swarm stresses the house and the relationship between Bardem and Lawrence.

Originally titled, Day 6, mother!, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan) is an ambitious affair that as its original title implies is a very thinly veiled allegory for the creation. Just as the veil was torn at the death of Jesus, the veiled covering of the meaning and intentions of the movie are clear by the third act.

Bardem, Lawrence and all the other actors in the movie are never given names but Lawrence claims herself as the titular Mother during the second act of the movie as she argues with her lover Bardem (they never confirm their marriage either) over the authority and control of their child.

While most of the roles and events of the movie line up with Biblical references, Harris and Pfeiffer are Adam and Eve, their sons, of course, are Cain and Abel, the house is the Earth and Bardem confesses to being “the Creator”, it is unclear just who exactly Lawrence is. Is she the soul of the Earth? If so, how could she give birth to God’s Son? Is she is Mary, the mother of God’s son Jesus? If so, how could she be present at the beginning of the world? There are other theological questions that come up during the movie as well.

Rated R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language mother! reminds one of poor experimental theater in its composition and combined with Aronofsky’s direction full of jittery and dizzying scenes creates an unnerving and unsettling experience for the viewer. The performances from the actors are stellar. Jennifer Lawrence continues to expand her range and prove that she is a top notch talent in the industry. However, the movie itself is bloody and vulgar, disgusting and violent, gross and at the same time engrossing. Thereby, maybe Aronofsky succeeds in creating an accurate depiction of the creation, rise and fall of mankind and the Earth at least that is until the final scenes of the movie which is a little too cliche. Aronofsky has a grand concept but it suffers from incomplete construction. I can see mother! becoming a grand study in seminaries across the Earth.

Grade: C+

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