Mother! – Review

This is going to be one of the hardest reviews I’ve had to write. After the film was over, my significant other nor I said a word to each other. We went out to the lobby of the theatre, turned to each other, and let out a disorderly and exhausted, “Damn.” There’s no hyperbole nor overemphasis when I say that Mother! is a strong contender, if not sole owner, for the most bizarre film I have ever seen in my years of being a cinephile. Although I would never give the film credit to these honors, I can confidently say that this film was simultaneously surely terrible and indisputably brilliant.

Mother! tells the story of a happy couple, a writer struggling to create a follow up to his first success and his wife, who reside in their quant and secluded home. When two unlikely and unwanted visitors arrive, they seem to disrupt the happy couples seemingly perfect life.

The film is one whose mysterious allegory is something meant to be ambiguous throughout, and even, afterwards. For those who wish to know it, or have seen the film and are still puzzling it, I highly suggest reading the following article by Mike Reyes on Cinemablend; “Mother!’s Brutal Ending: How (spoiler)********(spoiler) Can Help You Understand What Happened.” I’ll explain my thoughts and feelings, but not what in the film brought me to those.

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is something to examine. It’s neither dramatic or particularly extraordinary; it’s impressive, but doesn’t allow much room for scene stealing emotional riots that we’ve seen her enact in previous films like Joy and Silver Linings Playbook. An experimental Lawrence is not something were terribly used to, or something we’d like to become familiar with, but is something that I’m not upset I got a chance to witness. Her costars, Javier Bardem, Michelle Phfeiffer, Ed Harris, and Domnhall Gleeson were unfortunately one dimensional and never had more to do than interrupt Lawrence’s life and continue what little plot there was.

A lot of criticism has come from the film’s misguided marketing. Many went into the film expecting to see a conventional horror thriller, and thus were extremely irritated when leaving the film. Let me set the record straight here, there is absolutely nothing conventional about this film. Do not try to attribute any genre to it nor go in with any preconceived notions of how a film is supposed to play out, because they will just do harm. Darren Aronofsky has made odd films before, but never to this level. It must have not been an easy fit, but Aronofsky has “Aronofsky’d’ himself.

Many times a film may have a third act that makes or breaks it; either the conclusion was the best part of the film and raised above it (Whiplash) or sometimes a third act can fall apart and weigh the whole thing down (Sunshine). Mother! is a rear breed where 75% of the film is nearly insufferable but is necessary to go through in order to truly and effectively experience an inventive, outlandish, provocative, and unprecedented final thirty minutes.

There’s no hyperbole nor overemphasis when I say that Mother! is a strong contender, if not sole owner, for the most bizarre film I have ever seen in my years of being a cinephile…I can confidently say that this film was simultaneously surely terrible and indisputably brilliant.

More than any film this year have I had such a hard time deciding what the ultimate rating should be. I asked myself, “Was this a masterpiece that deserves the highest of acclaim or a pretentious flaw that found itself more essential than it was?” The answer is neither; regardless of how groundbreaking and stimulating the climax was, the film must be judged for every frame that was presented in the 121-minute movie. I have decided to be calculated about my feelings in order to be fair to the film but also to my readers. 90 minutes of the film deserves a 3/10, at best; the last 31 is easily a 10/10, if not higher. (3[90] + 10[31])/121= Cinema 35’s rating below.

 

Cinema 35 Rating: 5/10


 

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Mark A. Silba

Mark is the founder and editor-in-chief at Cinema 35. He currently has his BA in Film and Media studies from Arizona State University. He currently lives in Gilbert, AZ where he spends most of his time seeing the latest theatrical releases.

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