What a shitshow. What a circus. What an orgy of biblical fucking violence. What a carnival. What a parade of the worst that humanity has to offer, concentrated into what will no doubt go down in history as one of the most shocking and extreme sequences in mainstream cinema. I’m not too sure if Aronofsky was simply trying to secure his tacit hold on gut-wrenching drama, or if the last twenty minutes of mother! is the ineludible product of trying and failing inexorably to resolutely conflate the horrors of human history into a single, post-Lapsarian fever dream, keening at fever pitch to the beat of the World Heart.
Darren: Cronenberg this is not, Lynch YOU are not, but a poor man’s von Trier mother! most certainly fucking is.
mother! is The Second Coming of art house shock schlock- a loose subgenre propped up by popular New Extremist and Dogme 95 films: one-note cinematography, lacklustre direction from a Jersey Shore auteur, shoddy acting and shockingly bad screenwriting. mother! is to the big old book of Jewicide and Jaysus what Baz Luhrman’s 1996 Midsummer Night’s Nightmare Romeo+Juliet was to Shakespeare and English literary heritage as a-hole: a penny-and-dime rehash of the oldest story in one of the post-classical world’s oldest and most culturally, socially and (unfortunately) POLITICALLY significant texts. Essentially, mother! is Biblical SparkNotes for snot-nosed movie buffs to slather over endlessly with other snot-nosed movie buffs- like me! And slobber we will, because beyond the very ham-fisted, on-the-rhinoplastic-nose Christian symbolism, as well as the lazy environmental-cum-theological subtext, there is quite a lot of overnight labour baggage to unpack here- most compelling of which is the maddening hoard of almost entirely credited extras who turn her and Him’s quaint little all-American home on the prairie into a wooden attestation to the folly and horror of the human condition.
Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t do anything noteworthy with the material; she spends almost the entire film reeling from showroom to showroom like a doughy-eyed incubator, asking people to leave. Lawrence is just another casualty in a long line of sullied Hollywood sweethearts; to me, she’ll always be the tweenage role model who betrayed millions of adolescent female fans by taking sexually degrading pictures of herself, that were invariably stolen and disseminated online during the 2014 ‘Fappening’. Maybe it isn’t my place to judge, but if you’re Katniss Everdeen to a global audience of impressionable young women, you should probably treat yourself with the same level of respect that your breakout role taught so many young girls to have for themselves. Going on that diatribe you can probably understand why I find it hard to like anything she does. And what an ineluctable shame when Silver Linings Playbook is still my favourite David O. Russell film, and one of the few portrayals of adult mental illness that I would wholeheartedly recommend.
As other (much better and actually popular) movie finickers like RedLetterMedia have already said, it is downright bewildering that mother! managed to secure a wide theatrical release from a major distributor, when the movie rubber-bands between an indulgent chore and unbearable disturbia. But kudos to Paramount for supporting Aronofsky and fighting his corner after the pretty predictable, and consequently boring backlash the movie has received, even if the writer/director is a pretentious, lip-flapping muggle with no talent on paper and very little talent behind the camera; it was a real treat for a movie buff like me to hear people leaving the theatre, TALKING about the film until they were out of earshot. I know my girlfriend and I argued about it the whole way home (because she thought it was indefensible sexist shite and I thought it was a wonderfully amoral merry-go-round of horrible violence and a timely parable about the human desecration of Earth), so I can only imagine how long it stuck in however many minds for the rest of the night and through til morning. And that is an achievement. Say what you will about mother!, but at least people are saying SOMETHING.