Mother! (2017) – Film Review

“The TV spot for this movie said I’ll “never forget” where I was when I first saw Mother!…but, oh, how I want to forget the whole thing.”

The TV spot for this movie said I’ll “never forget” where I was when I first saw Mother!…but, oh, how I want to forget the whole thing.

With few redeeming qualities—long-takes, invisible/smooth cuts, contained setting—Darren Aronofsky’s latest outing had to have been a trip, during the pitch meeting. Let’s explore why that meeting should never have happened.

The trailer was very vague for this movie—I liked it a lot. If too much is given away in a movie trailer (cough—Life with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal—cough), it makes no sense to go and see it. I was stoked for this film, because I was so intrigued by the trailers. That’s where it stopped, though; nothing about this film is magical or awe-inspiring, especially the phoned-in performances by the leads.

I’m not blaming Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence for their performances; their on-screen dynamic is great—because of their size differential (camera trickery and practical effects), and Bardem’s commanding presence. Jennifer Lawrence, as usual, adds grace to the affair, but her character—despite her trying—couldn’t amount to anything more than a victim…in an apparently-long chain of victims, here. Spoiler alert, by the way—not like people are going to the theatre in droves to see this thing, anyway…

According to IMDb, director Aronofsky wrote the first draft of the script in a little under a week. Very obvious, that. Budget was $30M, and the US opening weekend rake-in was $7.5M. Yikes… With heavy-handed Christian allegory to several known Biblical tales and the End of Days, and a slew of Satanic imagery sewn throughout, this movie took a nose-dive quickly into me checking my watch to see how long it was until the end-credits began to roll. Lots of unnecessary fluff.

Big names, beside the ones we see in the trailers—including Kristen Wiig, Domhnall Gleeson, and Stephen McHattie—make random appearances throughout the piece, and to little effect. Aronofsky force-feeds his audience “arthouse” imagery and parallels, as well as faces many would recognize. “Oh, Kristen Wiig’s in this movie, friend. I’m definitely gonna go and see it!” No, that’s not what star-power is for; a no-name cast would have worked just as well for this picture, and have been cheaper.

Speaking of the cast… All the characters act like rebellious children, and it’s not just the nobodies. Harris and Pfeiffer, especially, get on my nerves. At one point, a scene devolves into a typical high school house party, where Jennifer Lawrence’s character assumes the role of chaperone. Just…why? People show up to see Bardem’s character, and the undertones of that are cool—very steeped in the whole Antichrist and his legions prophecy from the Book of Revelations; were the movie just that, and a cold ending, I would’ve loved it. Or, if Aronofsky had expanded more on the whole “looped story” revelation that this movie ends with, that would’ve been cool, too. Instead, we get two hours of ham-fisted run-around, Biblical parallels that try way too hard, and the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” motif that caves in and buries us in more darkness. More questions are asked than answered—in any other situation than this, I would’ve loved that.

Final ‘Risk Assessment: */****. Cobbled-together scenes (especially in the third act) that mirror imaginings of Revelations, plotline after unexplored plotline that get heaped on top of one another, and gross-out moments for no reason other than shock value, Mother! was not at all worth it.

At least the ticket was free, so I didn’t support what little effort was put in.

Next review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Sept. 22nd)

Written by Evan Kern

Just a twenty-something filmie trudging through adulthood. Taking it day by day, movie by movie. Words are life...

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