‘mother!’ makes you think, and that’s not a bad thing

By Casey Campbell

Right off the bat, I don’t feel equipped to traditionally review this film, but I still want to voice my thoughts. It’s something that was wholly unique, conflicting, and above all else, brave. I felt an emotional and physical response to what was one of the most unflinchingly visceral films I’ve seen in some time.

I’m not equipped to give a review of ‘mother!’ because I didn’t sufficiently unlock it during my first watch. There is so much more to glean from this densely allegorical movie, and, as a testament to it’s quality, I cannot wait to crack it open further.

On the surface, it’s a bizarre nightmare into the mind of Darren Aronofsky, a challenging filmmaker whose past work has done a number on the minds of many a moviegoer. (‘Requiem for a Dream’ effectively destroyed me.) His ability to create genuine unease and anxiety is terrifying. The nightmare keeps chugging along, and the audience has no idea where it’s heading. I felt uncomfortable due to long focused takes, the sound mixing (where scenes could be replete with cacophonous noise, or completely devoid of sound all together), and the acting from the lead and supporting cast. These are all admittedly surface level pieces to a very complex and layered puzzle.

But that’s the thing: I only have a surface understanding of what happened. A couples tranquil existence is hindered by the arrival of unwanted guests, and then insanity ensues, but I won’t divulge any spoiler details past that. The amount of imagery, and allegorical details riddled throughout are enough to keep up a discussion for hours. The tiny little morsels I keep remembering several hours out from the screening are enough to make me want to see it again, even if the majority of the film is very difficult to watch.

‘mother!’ is fascinating, but also easily polarizing. Feigning pretension, I would be remiss to say that this is not one for general audiences. The third act is a free flowing tangent into pure chaos, with a beautifully detached sense of time, or should I say a lack of a sense of time. It reminded me of how existentially dreadful ‘Synecdoche, New York’ was with it’s consistently inconsistent lack of timekeeping.

General audiences tend towards easily digestible films, ones which require very little discussion afterward. It garnered an F Cinemascore, yet it provokes avid discussion. Surely a film that makes you think about it for hours can’t be ‘BioDome’ bad, can it?

 

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