Although it’s tanking at the box office, Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! is getting a lot buzz, becoming the most talked-about film of the weekend. People seem to hate the film as it is a new member of the infamous F-graded films club on CinemaScore. That score probably comes from so many having trouble comprehending its bizarre storyline that deals heavily in metaphor and allegory. Hell, even Aronofsky himself has exclaimed that he isn’t too sure what it is about anymore.
I’ll probably be wrong, but let’s take an in-depth look at what the film really means. For those who want to see the film, this is your spoiler warning. However, considering the film’s miserable box office return, it appears that no one will seem to care. So let’s get started!
Who are Our Characters?
Practically everything in mother! has some type of allegory or metaphor attached to it.
To start, it appears that Javier Bardem’s character is a representation of God. He has a fascination with creation that trumps about everything else. When people begin to invade the house (more on that in a second) they destroy everything, causing chaos. However, Bardem as God continues to love them and want to forgive them as any benevolent God would.
As his counter part, Jennifer Lawrence is most likely a representation of Mother Nature (hence, mother!) or Earth itself. The film takes an incredibly dark look at humanity, showing them barging into the world and basically ruined what she created. Lawrence’s character seemingly built this perfect paradise for herself (in this case the house equals Earth). Unfortunately, people barge in, claim that the place is theirs, and destroy it.
Got It, But What’s This Movie About?
In essence, mother! is an unwieldy look at the creation and ultimate destruction of the universe.
We see the house come back to life after Bardem puts a jewel on the mantle in the study. From there, Lawrence literally springs to life in the bed, signaling the dawn of a new universe. This action is basically a representation of The Big Bang. From here, we get a mix between the biblical past of Earth and documented history that follows it.
The film has essentially two main parts. The first section follows the creation of man with Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer’s characters representing Adam and Eve while their sons are clear allegories to Cain and Abel. From there, even more people come barging into the house and begin to ruin it. Two people ended breaking Lawrence’s sink which ends up breaking pipes and causing the house to flood, making everyone leave. This action is like the great flood from the Bible, cleansing the house (Earth) for a brief moment.
Where Does the Film Go From There?
Bardem and Lawrence then love each other in the biblical sense, causing Lawrence to become pregnant. God (Bardem) now has the ability to create and love once again, allowing him to write his “perfect” poem. Word of his poem get around, causing more and more people to come to the house, mirroring the explosion in population in recent centuries.
This is where mother! becomes crazy. As people fly into the house, Lawrence (who has had a connection to the house via a heart that has been fading to black) breaks down, unable to handle the destruction. The house begins to change, showing the fall of man through the new age with wars breaking out and zealots murdering each other in the name of Bardem (God).
Unable to continue on, Lawrence burns herself alive, causing the house to be destroyed. Bardem then rips out her heart and uses a new jewel to bring the house back to life with a new girl in the bed this time, essentially creating a new universe from another single entity. The movie is cyclical, just like the universe.
Problems with This Representation
This interpretation makes some sense, but it leaves out a tone of other ideas in the movie, and this is where mother! probably lost a lot of viewers.
Bardem is also a representation of Aronofksy himself. This is clear as he is a tortured artist that creates beautiful pieces of art that transcend just about everything. From one perspective, mother! is basically Aronofksy stroking his own ego. However, there are also shades of the devil in Bardem as well, as he destroys the universe and brings hate into the world.
Lawrence is also very clearly Mother Mary as she gives birth to a Jesus-like child in some of the most on the nose allegory you could ever imagine. The final nail goes in the coffin when the zealots (ahem) eat the child to signify the body of christ that many forms of Christianity offer as part of their service.
The film is also presented through the lense of a bad relationship between Bardem and Lawrence. There are certainly some metaphorical items to this piece (God not taking care of the world), but in its true form, the relationship also has discussion of the rightful place for a woman in this world, which is sure to ruffle some feathers. The relationship isn’t really given enough time to blossom in the midst of the metaphorical destruction of the universe, making the entire effort feel hollow.
I also have no explanation for the elixir that Lawrence’s character drinks to help soothe her body (predominantly her heart), what the hell a heart was doing in the toilet, or the purpose of the bloodly hole in the floor boards that continues to grow. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to these moments (leave a comment down below!).
So What Message Does mother! Have?
This is where the main problem of the movie comes into play. There’s a general retelling of the universe here, but it’s mixed with other out of place allegorical messages that directly conflict with others (how does the connection between Mother Nature and Mother Mary work?, for instance). There’s so many pseudo-political statements and shade thrown at climate change denyers that mother! eventually caves in from its own ambition.
In this critic’s mind, there’s nothing that accents this choatic mess to make you leave with a lasting idea or message. You’re left asking, why? These questions will probably never be answered as Aronofsky has described the film as a vomit of ideas, and that’s probably the most accurate thing about this article.
I guess when it comes down to it, everything in the world sucks in Darren Aronofsky’s eyes. Darren, I hope you got whatever hate you had in you out of your system. Do you need a hug?
Thanks for reading! What’s your interpretation of mother!? Comment down below!
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