ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, SEPT. 15, 2017
By Steve Newton
When I saw the TV trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! I thought it looked like a pretty decent horror flick–or maybe “psychological thriller”, the label horror-phobic Hollywood marketing departments tend to prefer. But now that I’ve seen it, I don’t know what the hell it is.
In this mind-messer of a movie from the director of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, no one has a given name. Academy Award-winner Jennifer Lawrence–the much older Aronofsky’s current girlfriend–is simply credited as Mother. She’s the doting wife of a much older poet (fellow Oscar-owner Javier Bardem), living in a gorgeous Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere. She has painstakingly restored the place, her husband’s childhood home, from the burnt-out shell it once was, and feels a weird connection to it, depicted by shots of a human heart that starts beating when she touches a wall.
An unsatisfied vibe plagues the couple, apparently the result of the poet suffering from severe writer’s block, but the tension escalates when a mysterious physician (Ed Harris) shows up at the door one night, thinking it’s a bed-and-breakfast. Much to Mother’s chagrin, hubby invites the stranger to spend the night, even though–in between smokes–he’s coughing like it may be his last. The next day the doctor’s nosy bitch of a wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up to make things more uncomfortable, and she also gets asked to stay.
That’s when the freaky mindtrips start grinding down the hapless Mother. She finds a photo of her husband in the visitors’ luggage, and a heart spurts blood in a backed-up toilet. She starts guzzling more liquid meds to deal with the growing insanity around her.
The houseguests-from-hell angle ramps up until it apparently climaxes with long-overdue lovemaking, much-wanted pregnancy, and the curing of writer’s block, if you can believe that. A baby’s coming, words are flowing, and happy times are here again! Not.
In the final act Mother! descends into chaos once again as seemingly hundreds of outsiders invade the home, lured by news of the poet’s latest masterpiece. It turns into one long WTF moment as the packed house becomes the surreal setting for riot-like combat, executions, and other crazy-ass shit.
Considering the pedigree of Aronofsky’s previous acclaimed films, I’m guessing Mother! is meant to be an audacious personal statement on the ultimate price of fame or the true role of the artist or something like that. That’s nice for him, but I was just hoping for a decent horror flick.