Monday, September 18, 2017

mother! - Movie Review

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig and Stephen McHattie.
Written & Directed by Darren Aronofsky.


This is a balls-to-the-wall tour-de-force by Darren Aronofsky. He had a vision and he dives right in.

We know something wild's going to happen because we see the movie start with a woman on fire. It zooms back to a burned house being restored, until everything is pristine, and then Jennifer Lawrence wakes from her bed to go make her husband (Javier Bardem) breakfast. Surely this will be a lovely day. Then strangers show up unannounced. Her husband just lets them in, lets them stay, and she's too polite a hostess to say anything, but why exactly are they here?

No one is ever given a name in this movie. In the credits she is referred to as "mother" and Bardem as "Him." The movie drops several clues where it's going, and I just watched with a giant grin when the action amps up to its psychotic, Biblical, uncompromising conclusion.

I'd say more than half the people in our audience hated it. When I started explaining to some people, I could tell their enjoyment increased. (Except for one guy, who tried to argue Appeal to Authority to me because he works in TV.) I think it's best an experience knowing as little as possible, and it's one I love debating and discussing with people.




This is what I believe the movie meant.

It reimagines God as a selfish male deity who creates life for his own ego. The beginning shows the ending of a cycle. The female deity/Gaia/Mother Earth destroys herself, and when all is renewed, she comes back with no memory and in the form of Jennifer Lawrence.

She serves him, and he is a poet, an artist who can't think of what next to create. Then the man (Ed Harris) shows up. He has nowhere to go. He has a rib injury. He's Adam. He goes to see Bardem's den, his place for creation. He shows him a molten rock that he keeps on display, the soul surviving item from the previous fire. It is forbidden fruit that Adam may not touch. Then the man's wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up. She wants to see the rock more than Adam does. She finally touches it and accidentally breaks it. Bardem banishes them from the den and boards it up so no one may re-enter. (Cherubim and a flaming sword.)

Later the couple's two sons show up, arguing over a will. They fight, and the older brother kills the younger one. Cain and Abel. The older one even winds up with a mark on his forehead after the fight. Then dozens of people show up to mourn with the grieving parents. Bardem just lets them all in, and naturally, since they all seem to be familiar with his poetry and sing his praises. The more people that come, the ruder and more entitled they get. They also keep sitting on a sink until it bursts from the wall and floods the kitchen. This gives Lawrence the courage to yell "Get out!" and all of the people leave. Noah's flood. The humans are gone. She can now repair the damage done.

They fight and then have sex. She wakes up in the morning and knows she's pregnant. She's delighted. This inspires Him to write. He writes something beautiful. Scripture. People come from far and wide to hear and read his words. They come too quickly. They come with zealotry. He eats up the praise. She can't believe he keeps letting all of these people in. They start destroying the house. She goes into labor, and with each labor pang, the whole house shakes. The house is Earth, and she is tied to the Earth in ways He is not.

The baby is Jesus, and he wants to show the baby to the world, but she does not. She refuses to let Him hold the baby. She tries staying awake, but as soon as she nods off, her baby is gone. The houseguests carry the baby like a rock star over the crowd but someone accidentally kills him. Jesus is dead. Then they rip the baby apart and eat of his flesh. This is the sacrament of communion. The people start putting ashes on their foreheads to mark their devotion.

The movie speeds ahead until we finally get to the Book of Revelation. The apocalypse. She cleanses the earth with fire, killing everyone. In the end, only He and she remain. She's given everything. He wants the last drop of love in her. In the end, she's Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. She gives the last part of her existence to him. Her heart. He pulls it from her ribcage. It looks exactly like the molten rock we saw at the beginning. We gets all of the opening imagery again. The burning woman. The rock on a pedestal. The house being renewed. A different young woman waking up in bed. The cycle has started over.

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