‘Mother!’ divides moviegoers upon release


By Audrey Bernstein ’18
Jennifer Lawrence’s character eyes the camera in the first scene of the trailer, her voice barely rising above a whisper. A muted electronic symphony provides the backing to her words. The screen switches to display the view from a countryside home, swamped by meadow and blue sky. Within this undisturbed atmosphere, Director Darren Aronofsky fabricates a psychological horror and “the year’s most divisive film,” as labelled by the New York Times.
“Mother!,” released on Sept. 15, has polarized film critics and ignited discussion within the Staples community. The movie features Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a nameless couple living in the aforementioned home. Bardem, referred to as Him, was once a writer but has since abandoned his career. Lawrence’s character, Mother, spends her time renovating their home. The arrival of two strangers, played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, disrupts their “tranquil existence,” as described in the official plot summary.
Ultimately, violence erupts between the characters, yet “the finale gives few answers and invites further question,” Forbes Magazine said.
“I’ve never seen a movie done so creatively,” Kayla Bilotti ’18 said. “It is incredibly interesting that the plotline was so difficult to understand.” She added that after the movie ended she was able to dissect each metaphor, which attracted her to the film even more.
The horror’s ambiguity was not appreciated by all viewers, though. “The worst thing about Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’ is that we’ve demanded he explain himself,” the Los Angeles Times said.
The movie also received an “F” rating on CinemaScore, a company that compiles moviegoers’ opinions. Since the service was founded, 18 other movies have received the same rating.
“I think part of why people don’t like it is because when it gets crazy, it’s bizarre,” Jill Gault ’18 said. Along with Bilotti, she enjoyed the movie and paid careful attention to “the small things,” like camera angles and sounds.
Aronofsky’s work received both praise and criticism, but English teacher Brian Solomon claimed that the movie’s goal was to inspire this reaction.
“This is the kind of movie that forces people to think about uncomfortable truths. If it makes you really angry, it may be doing its job,” he said. He added that the unknown aspect of horror films scares spectators, because oftentimes, they are facing unknown attributes of themselves.
While “Mother!” may have succeeded in sparking a response, Solomon argued that it was not executed in the right manner. “I think it was a mistake that this movie was released and marketed nationwide,” he said. “The mass-market audience doesn’t want to think too much while they’re watching a horror movie, so now they’re getting disappointed.”
Whether the viewers loved the film for its metaphors or hated it for its obscurity, though, “Mother!” was able to draw attention from various perspectives and leave the movie community torn.