Review: Mother! (No Spoilers)

By Angel

Movie Description: “A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.”

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Story

What the hell did I just watch?! Going into this film, I knew I was watching a Darren Aronofsky film so I expected each frame to be vital to the overall story and sure enough that’s how it immediately starts. The first thing we see is a close up on a girl’s eyes and it appears that she is on fire. Then the shot cuts to Javier Bardem admiring a stone and placing it in his office. Once he puts the stone down, it’s revealed that he’s within this house and the damage seems to be reversing since the ashes are disappearing. Furthermore, we get introduced to Jennifer Lawrence’s character as she forms on a bed, wakes up, and begins to talk to her husband which is Javier. I was already hooked because I wanted to know who they were, where they were, what that stone was, and where it’ll all lead to.

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Their relationship was not great, they had issues and the more I got to learn about their communication, priorities, and trust, the more I understood why. Things get eerie as new characters enter the house as it feels like a house invasion film. There was shock value that was executed very well and consistent with it’s tone in this narrative, but by the end of it, I had no idea what this director was trying to tell me with the subliminal messages. I definitely could feel there was some biblical themes, but I just could not connect it to what I saw. This is one of those movies that the majority of the viewers have to get more context from director interviews or analysis videos. Yes, mostly everyone will hate this film and it’s completely understandable.

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Performance

This is arguably Jennifer Lawrence’s best performance. The majority of the camera is a close-up on just her face and all the emotions she has to go through are extremely challenging, especially reacting to everything that was going on involving her character. I believed all the warmth, vulnerability, pain, terror, and anger she brought to the character the entire time. A lot of people have their reasons as to why they don’t like Jennifer Lawrence personally, but regardless, whenever I see a great performance I’ll always acknowledge it and I thought she delivered.

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Javier Bardem commands the screen! He gives an intimidating performance. There was one scene where he was sitting in a chair with a stare on his face that I really loved because it seemed like he was Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men once again. He was powerful, calm, and had a desire to be praised.

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Michelle Pfeiffer, along with the rest of the cast, were perfect in their roles. They all destroyed the peace of the main relationship and the house, but I never understood why they behaved the way that they did.

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Cinematography

To me, great cinematography is when the visuals are contributing to the storytelling. A film should SHOW us what’s going on rather than tell us. When it comes to analyzing cinematography, simply, I ask myself, “Was this film nice to look at?” Then I can choose to get in depth and look for whether colors were symbolic, placement of characters in the frame, composition, lighting, shadows, and point of view.

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Was MOTHER! a great film to look at…ABSOLUTELY! I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. The visuals, the camera work, the use of light and darkness, or lack of, were all excellent. There is limited perspective because of the close-ups on the characters, but that was intended for the claustrophobia. This film threw me off with confusion, but I think that was done on purpose since there were barely any establishing shots. The genre rules are changed here since in a typical horror experience we’re trying to figure out who is the killer, who is going to die, why is this happening? The visuals are, without a doubt, striking and a must see on the big screen. The cinematographer created a scary and uncomfortable atmosphere!

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Music

I don’t think there was any music, not that I can remember, but there was an awesome soundscape in the sound effects. The noises were effective in increasing the layers of the disturbing sound design.

Message

Lessons I attempted to get immediately after watching: Treat everyone with respect, the pain of pregnancy and labor is claustrophobic and one of the most painful, yet beautiful experiences a human can endure.

Definitive lessons I got after interviews from Director: Do not take the people that actually care about you for granted, protect the environment.

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Overall

I didn’t love this movie because it just felt so confusing and the reason it is so confusing is because the entire movie is an allegory. It was a representation of a story that has already been told, just in this way that Darren wanted to tell it, which felt a bit pretentious. When films are metaphors and require me to do some research after, they are not the films I prefer over the ones I instantly connect with. I love escapism and I love films that make my life better with clear messages, ones that can make me into a better person. During my first experience, MOTHER! did not feel like that. I would watch this again with someone who has not seen it just to see their reaction because this will psychologically mess with their mind. The technicalities were perfect, but overall what in the hell is Darren Aronfosky smoking! My rating for this film is 8/10.

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Grade: B

 

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