Film Review: Mother!

Mother Film

Darren Aronofsky is perhaps cinema’s most disturbed auteur.

The American filmmaker consistently shocks us with thought-provoking and deeply distressing experimental films since his debut in 1998. Now on his seventh film, Aronofsky proves to horrify his audience with his most divisive film, Mother!

The film has recently been marketed as cinematic marmite due to the split but equally strong opinions of the film. Will you love it, or will you hate it? Aronofsky tweets “YOU DECIDE.” There is no denying that Mother! Is an experimental film with a deep meaning embedded within it, however many have struggled to decode these meanings and have rejected the film as a consequence.

I for one don’t understand the negativity towards this film. There are far more confusing films than this, some of which are widely praised such as; Inception, Interstellar, The Matrix and Mulholland Drive. So what has Mother! Done so wrong? The answer is nothing. Love it or hate it, Mother! Has generated a strong audience response as well as discussion about the film, and that is what makes a film a piece of art.

The narrative of Mother! Is extremely complex, hence the poor reception, and can be read in a number of different ways. Although the cast and crew have gone on record to explain the film in an attempt to defend it in amongst the backlash, they really shouldn’t have had to.

I personally took three different readings of Mother! When I first saw it; one being the preferred reading, an allegory for the environment, another being a visual representation of man’s neglect and abuse of women through history, and lastly and my preferred reading, a biblical retelling from the mind of an atheist.

Aronofsky’s vision is both deeply disturbing and highly intellectual. Mother! Is a film which demands multiple viewings and results in multiple readings. However, upon second viewing, Mother! Does seem rather narrow in what it represents, despite the backlash from people who don’t understand it. Nevertheless, Aronofsky makes a very poignant and important horror film, there is meaning being the horror, Aronofsky doesn’t just want to scare you for box office returns, he wants to convey a message in his own dark way and you must respect him for that.

Aronofsky uses all the elements of filmmaking perfectly to bring his vision to life. The production design is exquisite, working both as a horror house and a fantastic microcosm for the earth, with all its many rooms and doorways. Costume and colour are also used noticeably to connote Lawrence’s innocence as well as maintaining an unnerving tone for the entire film.

The sound is used interestingly throughout Mother! Especially when doors are closed. The film features a large number of sounds with many different ones overlapping at once. The sound team behind the film excellently construct these sounds so that each one is heard, and the ones that we, as an audience, are supposed to focus on, stand out.

Perhaps the best micro feature utlisied in Mother! is Matthew Libatique’s cinematography. Libatique maintains a feeling of claustrophobia within Mother! Which could highlight the issue of human overpopulation through his use of tight framing and close-ups. This also coupled with the seamless editing by Andrew Weisblum and Phillip Messina’s production design, to which I’ve previously mentioned and praised, makes Mother! A time jumping masterclass in filmmaking and artistry. The hatred towards this film is completely unmerited.

Mother! Is the perfectly pieced together vision of an atheistic auteur. The film draws many different and even conflicting emotions from its audience, and encourages a discussion, which has sadly come to an end, ever since the director’s hand was forced to explain the film. Mother! Is a complex piece of experimental art that people haven’t given a fair shot to. It isn’t Aronofsky’s worst, nor is it his best film, but one thing is certain, Mother! Is not a failure… Or at least should not be treated as one.

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