Mother! (2017)

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer LawrenceJavier BardemEd HarrisMichelle PfeifferBrian GleesonDomhnall GleesonStephen McHattieKristen Wiig
Seen on: 13.9.2017

A couple (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem) has just moved into a new house. He dreams of finding the inspiration to write there, while she painstakingly renovates the house. One night their routine is interrupted by a man (Ed Harris) who knocks on their door, thinking they are running a bed and breakfast. The writer is overjoyed at the change in routine and invites the man to stay the night, while she is more cautious. Things take a turn for the worse, when the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives the next day.

I expected bad things of Mother! and was pretty happy when things weren’t as bad as I expected them to be. But that’s not the same as saying that I was happy with the film: despite his strengths, I wasn’t too taken with it.

I was braced for an exercise in misogyny (and it’s not like Aronofsky has never done that before), but was actually surprised that this wasn’t my take-away from the film at all. But that only works if you read nothing Aronofksy himself has to say about the movie, because oh boy, his take really sucks.The way I read the film was that it was a take on male creativity and how it preys on women, as the poet constantly goes against her wishes and uses her suffering to fuel his own art. If you read the film that way, it’s at least trying to be feminist (though not very successfully as it takes too much pleasure in her suffering as well). And it’s also a strong comment on Aronofsky’s own work process. Judging from his comments on the film, at least the ones I know, that is not his interpretation, though, meaning that all of the apparent (self-)awareness is my own and not his.

The problem with my take on things is that it may reduce the misogyny of the film, but it also means that the film is pretty shallow and doesn’t have much to say, certainly nothing that’s new for anybody who has ever heard anything about male “creative geniuses”. Despite all the pretentious confusion the film provokes, it’s message can be boiled down to a few well-known sentences.

But Aronofsky does know how to put together a movie, making Mother! an engaging film regardless. There’s not a boring second here, everything looks gorgeous and the cast is pretty great.

I wasn’t as provoked by the film as many other people seemed to be (many for good reasons), making my major impression of the film that it’s overhyped both positively and negatively; but also that it’s dampened my enthusiasm for Aronofsky films even more than Noah did due to its pseudo-depth and Aronofsky’s obvious conviction that he’s making ART! – including the exclamation mark.

Summarizing: Could have been worse. But that doesn’t make it good.

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