Socialist Worker

Darren Aronofsky slips into self-indulgence

by Mary Brodbin
Issue No. 2572

Pretension over plot—Darren Aronofsky’s latest film is full of pointless metaphor

Pretension over plot—Darren Aronofsky’s latest film is full of pointless metaphor


Mother! apparently is in the Marmite category. You love it or hate it.

There were boos at the Venice Film Festival when it was premiered but it has also received praise from critics.

It starts off well enough—an intriguing set-up of newlyweds living in a Victorian Gothic mansion in the middle of nowhere, which had burned down and is being restored by the new woman of the house.

None of the characters have names. Jennifer Lawrence, the young wife, is Mother, and Javier Bardem who plays her husband is Him—a once famous author suffering writer’s block. His sole preoccupation seems to be protecting a mysterious crystal.

The wife, an interior designer, roams the house with paintbrush and plasterer’s paddle in hand.

And a very stylish and serene house it has become, if you ignore the throbbing walls and the blood spurting up through the floorboards.

One evening, a man claiming to be a doctor (Ed Harris) arrives at the door believing it to be a B&B. The author, ignoring his wife, invites him to spend the night.

Dismay

The doctor’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives soon after and they make themselves at home to the delight of the author and the dismay of Mother. Pfeiffer’s blunt criticisms to Mother provide a few welcome laughs.

The doctor’s two sons arrive. A fight ensues and one of them dies.

Madness and top-volume chaos descend as the morgue party all return to the house to hold an endless wake.

Goaded by Pfeiffer’s provocations, Mother announces to Him that she has become pregnant. Him is inspired to write the first poem he has written in a while.

Hordes of adoring fans arrive and the party really does begin.

Mother! is neither scary nor funny, other than Michelle Pfeiffer’s brief input.

The director Darren Aronofsky claims the film is all allegory. But what is it trying to allegorise? There is much clunky religious symbolism.

According to Jennifer Lawrence, the character she plays depicts “the rape and torment of Mother Earth” and presumably we’re meant to see the warring sons as Cain and Abel.

The trouble is we are being bludgeoned with a message and the message is pretentious twaddle and not worth hearing.

Mother! is out now

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