(originally published Oct 01, 2017)
SPOILER WARNING: Thematic spoilers follow, and the less you know about it the better.
mother! was an overwhelming experience. I haven't seen a film that put me through the ringer like that since Antichrist. It's an avalanche of cinematic abuse (cinemabuse?) that made me feel stressed like few other films ever have, and while I greatly admire many aspects of it, I can't say for sure if it all added up to anything. It was as polarizing for me as it was for audiences as a whole.
It's a little too stuffed with ideas for its own good, and as a result it feels unsure of what it's trying to say or be. Is it about religion? Nature? Humanity? Birth? Marriage? The creative process? All of the above? None? In a lot of ways it feels like a student film on a massive budget; ambitious to a fault, trying to say a lot of things and not saying much as a result. Part of me sees its ambiguity as a positive, but the film is such a brutal and harrowing experience that it registers as frustrating instead. I'll be interested to see if my opinion about this changes with time.
(and for what it's worth, my vote goes to "creative process")
The film is very dream-like, and I have to commend Aronofsky for crafting what *feels* like a nightmare from start to finish. It features some of his boldest filmmaking to date, and it had my attention the whole time. Like any effective nightmare, waking up was the best part, and I was happy to be out of the gauntlet when the credits rolled.
Like Antichrist, I admired the craft more than I enjoyed the film, and one viewing was enough for me. I'm excited to see how this film holds up in both my mind and in the collective consciousness over the next few years. There's certainly nothing else like it, and as polarizing and ugly as it is, I'm glad it exists.