A man and wife (played by Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence) live in this grand house. It’s a little run down but the unnamed wife is planning to restore the house to its former glory. This is interrupted by the arrival of a doctor (Ed Harris) and his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) who quickly become unwanted guests.
Like The Witch and It Comes at Night before it Mother! was a victim of being mis-marketed. The trailers gave an impression that the film was straight horror movie when in fact it was anything but. The result of this would be a successful opening weekend, but a massive drop for the second weekend (due to negative word of mouth) in addition to the F rating given to it by more casual audience members. F Ratings from Cinemascore are extremely rare, and whilst there is an element of a mainstream audience actively refusing to be mentally stimulated at a cinema its mostly because they did not get what they were expecting to see.
Mother! is tough film to talk about because it’s hard to work out how much can be divulged. Whilst keeping a summary of the film’s plot as brief possible may be advisable Mother! isn’t a film you watch for shock reveals or its story. In fact, it’s probably better going in knowing what all of it means then you can pretend that you knew about from the start. The film is a little too abstruse to a massive section of audience if one didn’t have a sneak peak at an interview where director Darren Aronofsky explained what it’s about.
That being said there is a chance one may have gauged what the film was about by connecting Mother! to Aronofsky’s previous project, Noah. Both films deal with themes of environmentalism and both Mother! and Noah use religious stories as a way to present these themes. This religious allegory becomes more apparent in the second half of Aronofsky’s most recent and most passionate project.
Mother! does start out as a simple, more straight horror that the majority were expecting. It makes for a chilling opening with aspects of The Amityville Haunting (the house seems to be alive) and the works of Roman Polanski (particularly Replusion and latterly Rosemary’s Baby) playing up the chill factor. The creepy, spacious house is wonderfully shot, and the arrival of the unexpected guests does give an air of extreme unease (Michelle Pfeiffer in particular is a delight in a deviously cruel role).
Where the film is the most terrifying is when everything just spirals out of control, Lawrence’s unnamed character has no control over what happens around her. It’s a scary thought, and when the whole of human history from war and refugees to starvation and famine seems to happen inside the walls of her house then the overwhelming sense terror and helplessness that can only come from the feeling that life is just collapsing around you just becomes too much.
It's very much a passion project, and Paramount have allowed director Darren Aronofsky to make his own film with full knowledge that his film is likely to alienate a large chunk of the audience. Life would be boring if we saw the same risk adverse shit all over again.