Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is by far the most controversial film to be released this spooky season (aka October). It’s polarized critics and audience members, with many saying that the film is just too weird for the average movie goer. The critics say it’s got a lot of people disgusted and confused because it’s Art that was released to the mainstream (read: plebeian) audience. But the truth is, it did not at all “make your eyes widen and your jaw drop, to leave you in breathless chortling spasms of WTF disbelief,” as one reviewer promised. I went in with some expectations, since this is coming from the guy who gave us Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, to name some fan favorites. And I left feeling bored. I kind of wanted to go and watch another movie, since the last two hours didn’t really do it for me.
I’m warning you: there are spoilers in this rant. No matter though, because I’d suggest you don’t pay to go see it.
It Was Wayyyy Too Obvious
I’m not talking about the ending– Aronofsky threw in a last-minute twist worthy of Memento and Inception. It’s the way the whole thing plays out like a parable. It pulls more references from the bible than an episode of VeggieTales, but without the fun talking veggies. The acting is very good, but good acting can’t fill the void (or gaping hole in the floor) left by a bad plot. There are also about a half dozen other interpretations of the “true” meaning of the movie, but the point is, the movie seems like it’s trying way too hard to have a deep, true meaning. The thing about parables is that they sometimes gloss over the fact that they’re supposed to contain people (or characters) doing things. That leaves them easier to be read than to be watched.
The Special Effects Were Goofy
Most CGI special effects still aren’t at the point where you can’t tell the difference. But their use in the movie ended up looking like a collaged dreamscape. Darren Aronofsky has already said he dashed off the script in five days after having some sort of epic dream– but even if my dreams are surreal, they usually don’t look computer generated, and those sequences were majorly distracting from the more interesting mayhem that occurred using careful staging and camera work (and hordes of psychotic extras, but we’ll leave it at that). It was cheesy.
JLaw is Literally Barefoot and Pregnant
Jennifer Lawrence’s character, who doesn’t really get a name outside of Her (none of the characters do), is this archetype of Woman or Mother or Nature (or all of the above) and it really drags any connection we might feel to her character at a human level. She plays the contemporary equivalent of the ideal 1950s housewife, cooking and homemaking her days away– except she sometimes wears pants and doesn’t wear heels, mostly pattering around the house in bare feet. And what “She” has to go through… it’s hard to watch but harder to believe. JLaw even dislocated a rib on set while trying to emulate the terror her character goes through. Sorry, but the ends didn’t really justify the means.
Even though the ending sequences look batshit on the surface, and the film strives for some lofty universal themes, mother! left me checking my phone for the time in between yawns.