You’ve heard the name before because it has a plethora of famous actors and actresses in it. You are familiar with the trailer, as it has aired numerous times on television. You may have done some research on your own about what it is about. But nothing other than the film itself can bring such a masterpiece justice. I’m here to at least try to explain who mother! is one of the most important movies of the year.
The trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s movie mother! may give moviegoers the idea that it is a horror film.
While mother! does have its intended jump scares (three at the most) throughout the film, it is not to be seen as a horror film in any way. While I do not wish to spoil the plot, themes, or ending to this movie, I will be talking about all three of these in more detail throughout this post and therefore you can know that you have been warned. For those that have not seen the movie and wish to remain spoiler free, be aware that this movie, while it may seem strange at first, is highly recommended by me for its themes and ability to make the audience think about the bigger picture. That is all I will say on the issue and, from here on out, consider the spoiler warning active.
Let us begin with the movie itself. It begins with a visual of a woman burning alive, zooming closer into her face as a single tear rolls down her cheek. We know nothing of this woman other than the fact that she was burned. We must keep this in mind as it comes later into relevance. The movie then centers on Javier Bardem placing a crystal into a pedestal which miraculously reverses all the damage from some type of fire on his house. The camera focuses in on Jennifer Lawrence and, from this point in the movie, never leaves her focus again.
Jennifer Lawrence plays an unnamed character, however we can assume from the title that she is a mother of sorts. Throughout the film’s first act, she works tirelessly to renovate the house and make it perfect for her husband, who is a writer.
Without getting too detailed, the movie gets more complex when a mysterious man knocks on the door of their house and asks for a place to stay. This man, who later invites his wife to come and stay as well, claims that he is dying and that he only wanted to see his favorite author in the flesh before doing so. A strange claim to make toward a stranger however a noble goal indeed. These strangers are welcomed until they, despite the husband/author’s instructions, touch and break the crystal that was placed into the pedestal at the beginning of the movie.
It is here where madness begins taking over.
The husband/author is furious and Jennifer Lawrence commands the people to leave, but not before their children barge in the house and start a fight over the inheritance that they will get when their father finally dies. This leads to an all-out fight where the older brother murders the younger brother by hitting him on the back of the head, leaving a blood stain in the carpet and the wood of the house.
As the movie progresses, Jennifer Lawrence announces to her husband that she is pregnant and, when she does so, he has a spark of inspiration and begins writing again.
Nine months later and His book is published while Jennifer Lawrence looks like she will give birth any minute.
A surprise dinner for the author created by Lawrence herself is abruptly ended by “fans” of her husband’s work and they eventually break into and raid her house, claiming to want to take things as keepsakes of when they met the author. This sets the stage for the movie’s second act where chaos and shaky camerawork ensue. I will say however that it had one of the most disturbing scenes in a movie that I have ever seen. For those of us who have seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. For those who haven’t: it involves Lawrence’s own baby and it’s unfortunate fate. Just thinking about it makes me sick.
I’ll save the actual ending for the “ending” section. For now, let’s move onto the theme.
The reason I stand to claim that mother! is one of the most important movies released this year is because of its central themes and the fact that the movie is more a metaphor than it is a movie. When asked about the movie and its characters, Aronofosky told the viewers to “read the credits and look for the letter that isn’t capitalized. Ask yourself what’s another name for this character?”
Upon doing so, one will notice that all the characters’ names are lowercase except for Him, who is Javier Bardem. Him being all capitalized, as in God, or a god-like figure (another topic I will get into soon).
I remember the moment in the theatre when I realized this. When I realized what this whole two-hour movie was about. This was a movie, yes, with a beginning, middle, and ending, however the themes underlying the movie were far more important because while Javier Bardem played a God-like figure, Jennifer Lawrence played mother earth and the house was symbolically the very earth I am living on.
To be blunt this movie, if you are not already familiar, tells the story of how humans are destroying the planet. In the beginning of the movie, mother is happy with the house that she has. She is continually improving the house and making it better for Him.
As the movie progresses and more people begin entering the house, the audience can see that Jennifer Lawrence is getting more and more frustrated with the people that He invited into their home, a clear metaphor for how God created humans that are now destroying earth without a care.
The man and wife who broke the crystal were allegories of Adam and Eve breaking God’s one rule while the brothers who fought and murdered were clear replicas of Cain and Abel. These stories are too specific and religious for Javier Bardem’s character to play anything other than the God from the Christian religion. Nevertheless, we will move on.
The second act of the movie is when the metaphor becomes all too real.
As the house descends into chaos after a second wave of humans enter and destroy the house claiming that it no longer belongs to mother or Him, we see the birth of a newborn baby. This baby, representing Jesus, is given to the people by Javier Bardem and subsequently killed and eaten, a straight metaphor for the crucifixion of Jesus and how Christians take communion with a metaphorical body and blood of Jesus. (This, folks, is what I spoke of earlier with the most disturbing scene I’ve ever seen in film).
Jennifer Lawrence, angry for both the murder of her physical child and the murder of her metaphorical house-child that she has been working on, attacks the intruders and is subsequently overpowered and beaten to where she is barely conscious enough to make her way down to the boiler room. As she is there she has little hesitation to opening the furnace’s oil tank and setting the entire house on fire.
As the camera zooms in on her face and a single tear falls down her cheek, the audience is brought back to two hours earlier when a different girl, presumably in the same house, was also being burned alive.
The process repeats as Javier Bardem claims that he wants to “try again” and yet another crystal, the heart of a burned Jennifer Lawrence, is placed in a pedestal and the house is, again, saved from the ashes.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that this movie has more than it’s trailer delivers, I urge you to keep reading.
Perhaps I was wrong, earlier to say that this movie was not a horror film. You see, it is a horror film, but not a standard slasher or possession feature. This film is horrifying because it is relevant.
It is not so much a film as it is a warning to everyone on earth about the damage that we are doing.
As humans, we take the earth for granted and assume that, just because it has been here for as long as we are alive that it will always be here, but that is not the case. From terrible tragedy to natural disaster, from pollution to melting ice caps, from the evil in our hearts to the hatred in our voices toward others, we are killing not only this planet, but whatever humanity we have left and it is only a matter of time before the earth we took for granted is no more. Before, as the movie suggests, the world is no longer habitable.
Sure, you can say that you are just one person and switching your lights off when you’re not using them isn’t really going to make a difference, but if everyone thought that their contributions could help, we could change the world ever so slightly in the right direction.
This movie is a wake-up call to everyone who is taking what they live on for granted, for everyone who thinks that, in a hundred years, the earth will be just as habitable as it is now, which is actually pretty uninhabitable if you consider all the pollutants in the air and the garbage in ditches somewhere.
We are living in a messy house with trash all over, smoke in the air and instead of opening a window or straightening things up, we are consuming more and more and creating more of a problem.
To think that our American president, someone who actually has the power help this issue, is consistently denying the notion of climate change is terrifying. To realize that, all over the world, people are putting more and more filth into the air, are throwing out more and more garbage rather than recycling, are treating the world like it is theirs and theirs alone is truly terrifying.
To close this blog I would like to say that yes, while this movie is not for everyone, especially considering the traumatizing and gruesome final scenes and the confusing story-line, the message stands for all: The earth is not ours to bully, to mortify, to claim as it is the only earth any of us will ever have. If this movie could make just a handful of people who were once doubters believe this, then it stands that it is one of the most important movies made this year.
A month and a half later I am still thinking of this movie every day and consciously making decisions on how to help this issue get better. If that’s not considered a success by the developers of this movie then I don’t know what is.