Darren Aronofsky has made some good films. He’s made some okay films. And now with “mother!” he’s officially made a bad film.
“mother!” tells the story of a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to rebuild a house while her husband (Javier Bardem) struggles to write. As inadvertent guests keep arriving, demanding more and more of her, and her husband’s fame continues to grow, her spontaneous pregnancy becomes dire.
Jennifer Lawrence makes the best out of role that really doesn’t have a lot going for it. None of the characters transcend themselves beyond stereotype and, in effect, it’s hard to feel anything for the characters since they are so uninteresting. The film utilizes style over substance.
The “substance” that the film goes for feels clumsy and outdated. That man will trade in his woman, “his everything”, for the glamorization of others and that woman lets him feels downright anti-feminist in today’s environment. The film is a startling example of the male gaze, viewing woman as treasure, as a symbol of birth and virility, rather than as fully-dimensional characters. Lawrence’s character never stands up for herself, never calls her husband out on his shit and just sort of rolls over at the end of the film. Her “stand” at the end is rather pedantic and uninteresting, something that the audience senses should have come long before. In a way, it’s insulting.
There’s also a lot of hamfisted, over-the-top religious metaphors that are practically useless. Perhaps Jennifer Lawrence is supposed to be viewed as Mother Earth? Who knows. That’s pretty dumb too.
Aronofsky seems to be trying to channel his inner David Lynch. Lynch knows how to make the weird and subliminal work in a motion picture. Aronofsky seems more like a bratty kid in the backrow throwing a temper tantrum to get your attention.
That the film beats its message over your head is painful enough. That its message is downright stupid makes it all the worse.