Keeping with my King of Halloween duties, I saw mother! back at the Regal Cinemas late show Friday night. I can’t express how bad I couldn’t wait to put my two cents in about this movie, but I didn’t get home until 6am and sleep is important too. And then I got busy over the weekend, so there you are. You may have seen the previews and thought “wow that looks awesome!”. It’s ok, that’s what I thought too.
mother! looks amazing on the surface. Javier Bardem is one of the greatest actors alive. Jennifer Lawrence is a good actress and is well known. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer have more acting chops than … well… they have a whole lot. We even get Brendan Gleeson’s kids. Gleeson himself rules and I enjoyed Domhnall in Ex Machina. I know Darren Aronofsky (writer and director) is way out there, but I had hope. Glenn Danzig jokes aside, let’s review.
There was only one other person in the theater besides The Queen of Halloween and myself, and now I know why. The misguided proponents of this movie are going to say things like “you just didn’t understand it” and “you have to be really smart to get it”. My reply to them would be that yes, I did “get it” and that they are more than welcome to go collect their intellectual creditials and come back to talk to me. As strictly a religious allegory, mother! is very clever and well thought out. The problem is that it is not entertaining – at all. This is a film that was pushed to major release by the studios. It should be appealing since that’s how, you know, they make money. mother! views more like a film school master’s thesis than anything resembling entertainment.
In the purest sense, there may be minor spoilers ahead, but trust me, it doesn’t make any difference.
I have to review this on the direct ‘movie’ experience alone because no one is ever going to catch most of it on the fly, I don’t care who you are. I caught maybe half of what was going on before I ran it through my head a few times later. mother! is 2 hours long and officially categorized as drama/horror/mystery. First of all, it could have been 30 minutes long with the exact same story as far as the movie itself is concerned. Is it dramatic? no. Is it horrific? Besides a ridiculously unnecessary 2 minutes <<spoiler>>of infanticide<<spoiler>> toward the end, no. Is it mysterious? I thought it might be, but nothing paid off.
You can remove the characters played by Harris, Pfeiffer and the Gleeson boys and the film is exactly the same. I’m not kidding. Hell, you could remove the first 90 minutes of the movie and it would be the same. Would it complete Aronofsky’s “see what I did there?” narrative? No, but who cares. That “mysterious” re-sealed wall in the basement? No mystery <<spoiler>> It’s just where the fuel tank for the furnace is located. While I am spoiling, fuel oil isn’t capable of creating Tunguska Event-level devastation <<spoiler>> I made a concerted effort to look for symbolism and metaphors and ANYTHING that would perhaps make sense later. The sink not being braced thing never pays off, it’s just a plot device. The blood in the floor never pays off. The constant drinking of water never pays off, and what the hell is that yellow sparkly powder? I don’t think anyone knows..
Aronofsky made a movie about the Bible and the Human Condition. Congratulations, it is terribly boring. <<spoiler>>It doesn’t help that you eventually realize that none of it happens in what we would consider ‘the real world’. <<spoiler>> I can’t bring myself to recommend, support or appreciate this movie at all. I don’t care how cleverly the Bible is paralleled. When people ask me about mother!, my response is “don’t waste your time or money”.