Movies — MOTHER!

17 Sep
I saw Mother! today. It’s not the movie the trailers make it seem like (the second movie this year to be radically different than its trailer, after It Comes At Night), but I’m not sure how it could have been promoted more accurately.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a May-December couple who live in an enormous house in the middle of a clearing in the woods.  He is a poet struggling with writer’s block and she is an artistic type who is absorbed with restoring the house. Their solitude is disrupted one evening when a doctor (Ed Harris) appears at their front door. He is, he claims, a doctor at a nearby hospital, and has been told that their home is a bed-and-breakfast where he might find a room. The situation becomes even stranger the next morning when his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives. To say much more would be to give away the twists and turns of the first half of the movie.
It’s an unusual movie, an extended metaphor or allegory. 
Lawrence is very good throughout, channeling the viewers utter confusion at everything that happens around her. Bardem, Pfeiffer, and Harris are also good at doing what they’re asked to do.
I think its problem, though, is that it can’t decide which allegory or metaphor it is. There are a bunch of different things thrown in together, and the movie takes an abrupt left turn a little past halfway through. At one part during the extremely chaotic second half, I wondered if it was trying to be a viciously funny satire but wasn’t landing its humor, but it was being played so straight that I don’t think that was it.
I think the problem starts with Darren Aronofsky’s script and ends with his direction. He gets points for going bold in the middle of the movie, going way off the rails in a way that doesn’t make sense given what’s come before it, and doesn’t really follow from anything that has come before it. I don’t doubt that he knew what he was trying to do. But I think he fell short of communicating that to the audience. And when he did, explicitly, at the end of the movie, my reaction was “But that wasn’t one of the multiple metaphors I considered while I was watching the $*(%*%$ thing.”
I’ll give Mother! 6 Cheeseburgers for audacity
5 Cheeseburgers for the first half
and 2CB overall.

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