Mother! is one of the most buzzed about movies of this year, but not necessarily for good reason. The film is the latest endeavour by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, who has brought other controversial works like Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan to movie screens.
The story revolves around a couple (played by Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) whose lives are turned upside down after the arrival of bizarre people at their isolated house in the countryside. The concept seems simple enough, but the story eventually spirals into a manic mess of perplexing allegory, pretentious religious references and highly disturbing scenes that, quite frankly, seem to try a little too hard to be artistic cinema.
Read a short synopsis of the movie here, if you're willing to spoil the movie for yourself.
Aronofsky is no stranger to abstract concepts and dark themes, and many are claiming Mother! to be his most twisted piece of work yet. He uses symbolic imagery to make religious references in many of the scenes: "A bursting sink is a biblical flood. A leaping frog is a portent of a plague. A bleeding, rotting hole on the floor is original sin. A war of belief raging under the roof of one house," writes The Ringer. But while some are praising the film as an imaginative masterpiece, a good majority of people felt he went a little too far:
"The only other movie I've walked out of is Norbit." #mother!— Jacob Pomroy (@JacobPomroy) September 17, 2017
No one see Mother! It's the worst film ever made people even walked out! #Mother— Katie Randall (@Katiexx_xx) September 16, 2017
Looks like #mother! Is taking a box office beating. People walked out of my screening. I enjoyed the experience, personally.— =/\= (@ravenmews) September 16, 2017
#mother! holy fuck people walked out during the movie. a lot of anger in the lobby afterwards. it's so much and so hard to describe. amazing— Carlos Orlando (@carlosorlandope) September 16, 2017
The chaos was quite comical due to lack of clarity or context, for me, BUT 1 scene in particular was gross & I just walked out 😐 #Mother— Steve (@SteveUnknown) September 16, 2017
Just went to see the movie #Mother ... the most disgusting piece of trash I’ve ever seen. NOBODY go see that shit. I just walked out— Gina Baker (@ginabakerr) September 16, 2017
To the couple who walked out 20 minutes before the end of #mother!...— Ben Travis (@BenSTravis) September 15, 2017
...yeah, you wouldn't have liked those last 20 minutes.
After a somewhat intriguing but VERY repetitive 1st hour or so, #Mother just becomes unintentional comedy then a gross fest. Walked out. Ugh— Steve (@SteveUnknown) September 15, 2017
#Mother is maybe the worst movie I've ever seen. Walked out. If u value ur time, I advise against seeing it— encyclopædia cutie (@uteranlining) September 15, 2017
Just walked out of #Mother. First time in my life I've walked out of a movie.— Evey Dantes (@EveyDantes) September 15, 2017
Several people walked out of my screening of #mother! and, uh, yeah, I get it.— Kyle Cesena (@kcesena) September 15, 2017
On top of the mass walkouts, the film also suffered an abysmal weekend at the box office and a slew of terrible reviews online. It grossed only $7.5 million, which marks the lowest wide-release opening of Jennifer Lawrence's career, and received "F" scores across various film review websites online, including CinemaScore. One commenter explained it best: "If you need to Google search the meaning of movie when you get home, it was a failure."
Film critics, however, seemed to show more of a liking to the film, with sites like Rotten Tomatoes awarding it an overall score of 68 percent. Art is subjective, I guess.
Would you go see the movie? If not, you can spoil the movie for yourself by clicking Next.
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The story of mother! is one that begins in a fairly straightforward manner but quickly becomes a chaotic spiral of biblical allegory. Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) is an acclaimed poet struggling with writer's block. She lives with her poet-artist husband Him (Javier Bardem) in a house that had previously been damaged in a fire. Although Mother had renovated the house, she starts seeing things in each room that unsettle her, like beating hearts within the walls.
One night, a strange man - referred to as Man (Ed Harris) - knocks on their door, having mistaken it for a bed and breakfast. Despite Mother's reluctance, Him invites Man in and they indulge in drinks and conversation. Mother retreats to bed soon after suddenly experiencing dizzy spells, and Man suddenly becomes sick and starts bleeding from his back while he vomits.
The next morning, everything is strangely back to normal, until another person knocks at their door. This time, it's Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), Man's wife. She basically welcomes herself in and walks through Mother's house without paying any mind to her manners. Him invites Man and Woman to stay at his house for as long as they please, and Mother is horrified at the prospect.
Next, Man and Woman accidentally break one of Him's crystal posessions. Him becomes furious and decides to kick them out, but as they are leaving their two sons (Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson) arrive and start a fight over their father's will.
The Oldest Son severely hurts his Younger Brother and flees while Man and Woman seek help for their injured son. The Oldest Son comes back to get his father's wallet, and is informed of his brother's death. Several people begin showing up for the Younger Brother's wake. As they grow in numbers, Mother gets enraged and destroys a sink that begins the flood the house, sending everyone out. She proceeds to yell at Him for being so lenient lately, and then has sex with him later that night.
Confusing so far? Yeah, it only gets worse from this point on.
The next morning, Mother announces that she is pregnant. The news inspires Him to finish his work, and within seconds he announces that it has been published. While Mother prepares a celebratory dinner, a slew of fans come to the house to greet Him. Mother is terrified, and hides herself inside the house.
As more and more people show up, the more chaotic things become - people start to steal Him's items, and Mother becomes more and more insane. Him's publisher (Kristen Wiig) also shows up to the house to contribute to the madness, shooting people in their heads at point blank range with a gun. The military arrives to help Mother, but Him is left at the mercy of the fans, who form a circle around him and start initiating in pagan rituals.
Mother goes into labour and goes to Him's study to give birth. Him tells Mother that the fans want to see their child, but she refuses. When she falls asleep, Him disobeys her and takes the baby outside to the fans, who end up breaking his neck. In her devastation, Mother goes outside and starts eating the flesh of her baby, calling the fans murderers and stabbing some of them with shards of glass. They begin to chase her to the cellar where the furnace tank is, and despite Him's plea for her to stop, she lights the tank on fire and kills everyone.
Only Mother and Him survive, but Mother is extremely burned. Mother gives Him the last shred of love she has for him after he asks for it. He then tears open her chest and removes a large crystal that he puts into a frame. The burned down house magically becomes a new house again, and a new Mother forms in Him's bed.