If you go into “Mother!” assuming it is going to be an “It”-esque horror movie, you are sadly mistaken (despite the opening scene of Jennifer Lawrence burning alive).
I’ll save you the googling and tell you that “Mother!” is one giant allegory for God, Mother Earth and creation, a.k.a mankind, masked as an unnamed couple living in an old Victorian house surrounded by nothing but nature. Lawrence plays the overly loving wife to Javier Bardem, a moody poet with writer’s block. Every character either refers to each other with pet names or not at all, only when the credits role do you see the names of any of characters.
Lawrence, who plays Mother (Earth), and Bardem, who plays Him (God), are phenomenal, as always. Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Woman, and Ed Harris, who plays Man, represent Adam and Eve and make a compelling couple adding to the intensity with their two sons who represent Cain and Abel. Kristen Wiig even makes a jarring appearance a little over half-way through the movie.
The film starts with the house coming back to life from a fire that is said to have happened when Bardem was a child, destroying everything except a stone with glowing CGI effects that he shows off to his visitors (Pfeiffer and Harris) but won’t let them touch. Bardem welcomes his guests with open arms, catering to their wants, in return dismissing Lawrence’s needs despite her slaving away to rebuild his beloved childhood home. That is a recurring theme throughout the entirety of the movie—which is the biblical point, but hard to watch nonetheless.
Somewhere between the stone crashing, the first violent death and the purposeful destruction of the sink, you realize that this isn’t your typical melodramatic allegory film—shit’s about to get real. Bardem’s writer’s block lifts and a sea of adoring fans come out of the woods, literally. From there the anxiety continues to build throughout the movie as you watch Lawrence try to navigate through the destruction and horror. Keep your eyes peeled during these scenes, there is a lot to take in and very few moments you want to miss.
Each scene is carefully constructed with a deeper meaning and representation that goes beyond just the face-value of insanity that Bardem succumbs to and madness that envelops the house. Knowing your creation story and various Biblical references come in handy so you can understand what’s happening instead of thinking Lawrence must be having some terrible dream.
There was a minor detail that the movie failed to explain: the yellow powder that Lawrence drinks throughout the first half and her ‘visions’ when she touches the walls. The Daily Beast suggested that it was a reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. It’s about a young woman who goes insane because her husband confines her in a room for developing postpartum depression—back when they didn’t know what it was. Which could tie into the fact that Lawrence never leaves the house and when she tries, Bardem stops her.
Darren Aronofsky wrote and directed a good depiction of the creation story and the destruction of mankind. Given the state of affairs our world is in, I’d say it’s an appropriate time for the movie.