365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


mother! (2017)

There are two different types of people in the world. There is the group of people who, when asked if they've seen Darren Aronofsky's (The Wrestler, Black Swanmother will say no. And then there is the group of people who kind of look at you with a bizarre look on their face and shamingly say, "Yeah" and hope that you don't ask any follow-up questions. And that's not to say they are embarrassed by admitting that they've seen the movie (we've all been at theater before when we walk out with our heads down, hoping that we don't see anybody that we know because we don't want them to know we just paid to see a movie that was THAT bad), but because the film is so far out there that a follow-up question asking the person what they thought about it or if they liked it might allow them to draw conclusions about us. Aronofsky makes movies that you either love or hate. I absolutely adored The Wrestler and Black Swan, but passionately hated Noah. I have a certain respect for Requiem for a Dream and have desperately tried, but have been unsuccessful in my attempts to sit through The Fountain. If you have not liked a single one of the movies that I just referenced, I can almost guarantee that your experience with mother! will not be an enjoyable one. However, if have liked one or more of the five previously mentioned film and are willing to go into mother! with an open mind, I cannot promise that you'll enjoy it, but I do think you will appreciate it. I found myself appreciating it far more than enjoying it, but I THINK I still enjoyed it. I will say this...the film started like a normal film might start, but ended differently than any film I've seen before. And the entire time, I could not look away from the screen. This film absolutely offers something that you just haven't seen before, especially with a cast as magnificent as this one.

With that said, before I get into the specifics of this review, let's take a second to just marvel at the cast that Aronofsky was able to secure for this love it or hate it film. Sure he has pulled in the likes of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Natalie Portman, Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Emma Watson, Hugh Jackman, and Rachel Weisz to work with him...but not in the same film! With Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Biutiful), Ed Harris (Pollock, The Hours), Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys, Dangerous Liaisons), Domhnall Gleeson (The Revenant, Brooklyn) who, on a side note cannot make a bad film choice to save his life in his already illustrious career, and Kristin Wiig (Bridesmaids, Welcome to Me) . Aronofsky has slowly become one of those directors that actors want to work with at some point in their career. And the speed at which he directs a movie (about one every three years) makes some actors maybe want to chomp at the bit when a potential role is dangled in front of their face. The film is worth the price of admission alone to see the actors. Heck, Lawrence, Bardem, Harris, and Pfeiffer have a combined 14 Oscar nominations for acting between them alone.

Even with all of those accolades about the cast just mentioned, this is an Aronofsky film. He delves into the bizarre in a way that he's never done before. He digs so far into the bizarre in this movie that he almost makes the extremely bizarre The Fountain and Noah look normal. But you don't even know it's happening until you are already so invested. And even though he does things his way in this movie (and ultimately is successful), I'm not sure if he would have gotten there without Lawrence. He needed America's sweetheart. He needed a heroine who is front in center and adored in all of her movies. I don't know if he had a Plan B in mind if she had turned down the role, but she is the vessel he needs in making his film successful. So let's talk about Lawrence here. She plays lead character (mother) in this film. I believe she is in every scene, or we can at least see all of the scenes from the same vantage point that she had. She's not the usual "on top of things" Jennifer Lawrence that we are accustomed to seeing. She is not in the least bit alluring (though you cannot take away from her beautiful face). Her character is dismal, heartbroken, lost, even a little evil and twisted.

Bardem plays a character, simply referred to as Him. He is Mother's husband and he loves her very much. His character is very simple and serves in stark contrast to the complex one portrayed by Lawrence. Quite simply, Him is a poet with a major case of writer's block. He and Mother live in a remote mansion-like home that, not long ago, was burned down to the ground. They are busy renovating the home. It is mostly Mother who is doing the painting while Him struggles to find a desire to create. Him simply wants to be recognized for his writing. One day a man, simply referred to Man (Harris) arrives on their doorsteps. Aronofsky does a great job of selling the house as being so far off the beaten path that any sort of unannounced visitor would be alarming. Yet Him takes the man in after listening to his lavishly audacious story. The next day his wife (Woman played by Pfeiffer) comes. Once Man and Woman are inside Mother and Him's home, the movie takes a dip into the unknown. If you try to reason or rationalize anything that happens after this, you are going to be disappointed. But if you are able to take the first 30 minutes as what they are...simple, believable, yet still full of intrigue and are willing to open up your mind and not try to compare the second half against the first, I think you'll really enjoy trying to make your own interpretations of what happens. What you are about to witness is petrifying, riveting, and completely enigmatic. As the events slowly unfold, you will probably wonder if Lawrence's Mother slowly going insane or is she the only sane character in this film. Is she paranoid or is this par for the course? That's for you to decide. There are so many metaphors in this movie that I would be here all night. I've read enough different articles to either confuse the heck out of you or want you to call Aronofsky a genius. It's a maddening experience and there is nothing off limits. And, personally, I ate up every second of it.

The entire film takes place inside the family home. Aronofsky's production likely could earn an Oscar nomination as could its sound mixing. The feeling is so eerie, even from the start, that despite the first third of the movie's simplicity, it is foreboding enough to know something bad is coming. While the acting here is top notch, it is unlikely that any of the actors receive an Oscar nomination. The one who has the best chance clearly is Lawrence, but despite the lack of great movies this year, there have been some killer performances in the Lead Actress category. I think Lawrence gets left out come Award nomination time. And I think Aronofsky might be a little too out there with his direction for this one. You have a similar movie, in terms of both eeriness and metaphors in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water. The difference though is that del Toro told a slightly outrageous story (and, yes, I realize I'm talking about the harvesting of an Aquaman amorphous type being) than Aronofsky did with his story that actually reminded me of a quartet of 2017 releases (The Shape of Water, Get Out, Split, It Comes at Night all mixed together).

It's not a movie I would normally dig, but I enjoyed each moment of its bizarreness.

Plot 8/10
Character Development 9/10
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 9/10
Screenplay 8.5/10
Directing 9/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 10/10
Hook and Reel 8/10
Universal Relevance 7/10

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