No, you’re not going insane or suffering from a fever dream. Yes, that is Jennifer Lawrence crawling through rubble and piles of corpses as she goes into labor. In fact, you’re watching Darren Aronpfshy’s highly polarizing, incredibly shocking film, “Mother!”
Initially, I was perplexed as to why this film was being pulled from a local movie theater after only being in the box office for a week. As an avid “J Law” fan, I quickly added “Mother!” to my ever- growing list of incredible films to watch, considering the ratings for this movie have been far higher than excellent. Like her other movies, I decided to go into this film with absolutely no knowledge of the plot. I cannot stress how big of a mistake that was, as I was soon bombarded by incredibly uncomfortable scenes of random, displaced warfare; destruction of property to an absurd, apocalyptic degree; heavy-handed allegorical symbols involving mass murder and sacrificial offerings; and, essentially, the birth of a false-god.
Keep in mind,I am not a conservative, squeamish, or religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but this movie takes an unprecedented, inconceivable twist in its third act that is virtually indescribable. Honestly, I can hardly comprehend what was playing on the screen for two hours, but in that point, I can truly say that that’s where the genius and the praise of the movie stems from. Though I may not have completely been able to grasp the allegorical imagery, I am more than confident in saying that film critics and scholars will adore this movie.
I also can’t say that I absolutely hated this movie. This film does a lot of things right such as the acting. As usual, Lawrence is a complete natural, and even while being brutally beaten while trying to save her baby from being eaten off of a sacrificial altar, she provides the audience with actual terror unlike anything I’ve ever felt. Meanwhile her husband in the film, Javier Bardem, is near perfection, playing the role of an uncaring, cold, Messiah- like figure who is willing to sacrifice literally, and figuratively, everything for an unrealistic exaltation of fame.
Trying to explain the film’s disjointed, nonsensical plot actually demonstrates the complexity that I’m sure just did not translate well with me though will please fans of artistic, psychedelic movies. Plot points are never revisited. Ends are left untied and free-flowing. Symbols and double-meanings cluster every scene. This film is truly a modernism/avant-garde piece of art that takes a specific, very open-minded vision to take in and fully appreciate.
The film begins with a mysterious, almost whimsical image of a woman burning in a house fire, but the film seems to go back in time as Jennifer Lawrence’s nameless character takes form in a bed. After stumbling around while looking for her husband, it is revealed that he, again never given a name and simply referred to as Him, is a poet who has had a severe writer’s block for months. They both live alone in a cottage that’s been placed in the middle of an open, secluded meadow…for some reason.
Soon their redundant, monotonous lives are taken for a whirlwind of a ride as a nameless doctor and his wife show up at the cottage unannounced, which demonstrates their blatant disrespect for Lawrence’s wishes to simply be alone. The audience finds out Lawrence actually reconstructed the cottage completely on her own while her husband labored over an unfinishable poem, and I’m guessing you see a theme forming here. The arrival and eventual murder of one of the doctor’s sons marks the beginning that is the mess of the final two acts of this film.
There are hints that Lawrence may have some sort of spiritual connection to the house, in that it bleeds when she is in pain…or something? Then she finds a monster that seems to be the essence of the house, but that’s never really made clear either or revisited.
After the doctor’s and wife’s families utterly destroy the cottage, Him and Lawrence finally have sex, and she is instantly pregnant, which brings on the painful, almost unbearable religious undertones and not-so-subtle sacrilegious messages.
Him is finally able to finish his greatest poem ever, which causes crowds of people to mob the house in droves. This quickly turns into Him reveling in the fame, and soon forgets his pregnant wife to “bless” people by rubbing ink on their faces. For some reason, the mob of people that continue to swarm the house are tied up, beaten and killed right in front of Lawrence as she goes into labor. Explosions go off in her path and bodies are flung in every direction. Police show up to control the chaos, but the mob fights back with fire and artillery, again…for some unexplained reason. Everyone is silent and unmoving while watching Lawrence give birth, which is a moment immediately spoiled by her husband handing their child to the crowd of onlookers.
Warning: Spoiler alert
The baby is ultimately killed, sacrificed, and eaten by the worshippers, which was about as much as I could take of this experience.
Personally, I was not a fan of the amount of seemingly objectless death of literally hundreds of people after a confusing, muddled opening sequence of a modern, loveless marriage. Though, as reviews have proven, I can definitely see certain audiences standing and applauding the film as credits role.
If movie critics allow, I give Mother! a D-, and I don’t recommend you see it, but if this at all sounded appealing, you will be in for a treat.