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Groesbeck: Mother! Is A Frustrating Masterpiece



The recent film most people have not seen or the majority despise — Mother! — was a perfectly composed, pure allegory of many significant themes, particularly religion. It is a difficult film to watch. Representing the abuse and torment of Mother Earth, Aronofsky has the audience visually and emotionally following Mother throughout the movie. As the show goes on, violence and disaster ensue. It is not for everybody, but it is important for people to understand the symbols projected.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Mother, a quiet and submissive woman who is restoring and creating the house she resides in alone with Javier Bardem, Him, in the middle of a forest. Bardem’s character, a poet, is blocked and unable to create. In the middle of the night, Man knocks at the door. The two men get along and this is where Mother experiences uneasiness and dizziness. The following morning, Man’s partner, Woman, comes along and takes part in resting at their house. Woman wanders through Mother’s house guzzling vodka lemonade. She probes Mother, asking inappropriate questions. Him allows Man and Woman to stay at their house for as long as they wish without considering Mother’s input, who is horrified by the prospect. Together they break Him’s most precious belonging, a crystal in his study. Soon, their two adult sons arrive at the door and begin to argue violently.

A theme is emerging here. Mother is overlooked, undermined, used and abused. It motivates a frustration and dissention. Mother! is the first emotional crisis and insanity at the cinema in a long time.

The writer and director Darren Aronofsky himself defined it as an “assault” and a “fever dream.” Mother! is depicted as a horror film because they wanted the audience to be prepared for the graphic monstrosities on screen.

Since Mother represents Earth, Him represents God. Out of boredom, Him creates Man, Adam, and brings along Eve, Woman. The crystal in the poet’s study/Garden of Eden signifies the forbidden fruit. The two children who fight are Cain and Abel, who bring worshippers to feed God’s need for adoration. The worshippers, deliberately ignoring Mother, sit on Mother’s unsupported sink, which ends up causing the pipes to burst into the Great Flood. God impregnates Mother, who has the baby Messiah, which follows us into a chaotic communion and Revelations.

Aronofsky has said that the peculiar punctuation of Mother! is a hint to the dizzying 30-minute ending. The cinematic exclamation point is a sequence shot in which the pregnant Mother fights her way through a five-part fever dream of horrors that chart the biblical plagues and an escalation of violent images in which her precious creation is destroyed in the utmost insane ways.

In the end, after losing her baby because of God’s absurdity and his followers, they eat the body and blood of Christ. Mother is violently beaten by God’s disciples and eventually, takes it upon herself to destroy everything in her home. Burned beyond recognition, Mother is carried by God to a bed and he asks her for one more thing. God takes her heart, her last bit of life. In resemblance to Hindu religion — which says God created and destroyed the universe infinite times — the cycle begins again. A new Mother, a new home.

This gripping film had me sitting on the edge of my seat for the entirety of its duration.

Mother is God’s wife. She is Mother Earth. She is all the suffering women who have been forced to endure through the incompetent fragility of men and husbands.

The movie is also about the selfishness of the creative process and Him’s art reflects the way humans alter and shape their surroundings regardless of the toll on life and planet Earth. The frustration and helplessness of the ongoing crisis are apparent in Mother! Aronofsky’s passionate concern for human-caused environmental destruction is crafted into every riveting moment of the film.

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