With a spectacular cast lineup featuring “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence, Academy Award winners Javier Bardem and Michelle Pfeiffer and big-screen veteran Ed Harris, “Mother!” was a highly anticipated film but seemed to fall short on delivery, grossing only 26 million dollars compared to a 30 million dollar budget.
The film’s writer, producer and director, Darren Aronofsky, has always sought to push social and political boundaries in his films, having come under fire multiple times regarding the content as in the case of “Black Swan,” “Noah,” “The Wrestler” and probably most notoriously, “Requiem for a Dream.”
Aronofsky, proven to be motivated by controversy, has a unique writing and production style that aims to produce movies that step outside the confines of genre definitions – an ambitious goal but not necessarily attainable. As seen in the case of “Mother!,” the confused audience is left behind to Aronofsky’s intentions.
The film was originally marketed as your conventional horror story, which was contrary to the artistic blueprint of the actual plot and message, leaving viewers either pleasantly surprised or very plainly vexed. Despite the stellar performance of the cast, the film warranted sighs of betrayal, multiple walkouts and frequent befuddled exclamations of “What?” at the screening I attended.
For those who opted to stay and who seemed to appreciate the complex allegory for the modern day torture and suffering of Mother Earth, religion and Greek mythology, the film seemed to simultaneously invigorate and repulse the audience.
“Mother!” is the perfect example of a thought-provoking but overly ambitious art piece. The metaphor that Aronofsky aimed to portray required intricacy that only unlimited time could provide, and the use of biblical passages in the plot alongside political imagery could very well be perceived as a mockery.
In short, if you have managed to watch any of Aronofsky’s previous films without blowing a gasket or trying to figure out how to get your time back, this film is right up your alley; otherwise, you may want to sit this one out.