Writer/Director Darren Aronofsky


mother!’s main theme seems to be about the artist’s consuming needs revolving around the muse which helps him birth his art but which he kills by wrapping himself in everything about the world. Is it about woman as inspiration and source of all that is good, and man as the benefactor, controller and destroyer of all? Is it about love as inspiration, but the need to be loved as the apocalyptic psychosis of man/artist?

It is definitely a wild ride, with if I’m recalling accurately, no music whatsoever, although Jóhann Jóhannsson is credited as the composer (see Vanity Fair article), and the film does have an amazing sonic undertone which might even be mostly at the subwoofer level and which adds a creepy horror movie feel. The camera work often is steadicam following Jennifer Lawrence’s character in such a tight single that when the frame moves off her, then back and again, we are often expecting the shock/horror reveal which we are now so accustomed to as cinematic language.

Great work from the principal cast amidst a mind boggling number of extras and featured players. Big props to Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. I can’t imagine how exhausting this film was to make with all the action, fx and stunt work involved.

The tension and sense of unease throughout the film is palpable, but I was always wondering if what I was seeing was real, or in one of the characters’ minds, or if Mr. Aronofsky was taking us down a surrealist or metaphysical path. He takes what he did in Black Swan and goes even further. I am left with the film as somewhere between fable and allegory, yet not sure of either. For the stark imagery and how it provokes discomfort and reflection in me, this is a Should See.

Relatable Reviews

  • A.O. Scott in the NY Times asserts that this is an allegory about ecology and religion rife with Biblical references from Genesis to Revelation and beyond, and he laughed a lot, seeing humor throughout. I can see the religious connections he illuminates in his review, but I sure didn’t laugh, maybe not even once.
  • Owen Gleiberman in Variety sees it as a failed horror film, but I think he’s got the genre wrong. Jen Lawrence said that they are telling people it’s a horror film to prepare them emotionally, but that it’s more just horrifying. I agree with that.
  • Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune posits that Aronofsky is working out his personal stuff here, both as an artist, and as a man in relationship. That thought came to me during the screening.“Aronofsky wrote the script in a quick burst, and it plays that way. He’s enough of a writer to send his angst flying in all directions. The movie’s grandiose and narcissistic and, in quick strokes, pretty vicious. In his biggest hit to date, “Black Swan,” the fantasy/reality games were nice and simple: Is the ballerina imagining things, or not? “Mother!” starts that way but goes crazier.”