Mother Movie Review
I bought tickets to a special pre-screening of the new Jennifer Lawrence movie “mother!” This is a spoiler-free mother movie review. I’ll write a full mother! movie spoiler post and link it here later today.
Here it is. Don’t read this mother movie spoiler unless you want to ruin the film.
mother! movie review
First let me establish my movie bona fides. It might help you decide if you want to see the new movie mother! by Darren Aronofsky starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem.
I’m not a movie snob, but I do prefer movies you have to think about. I love Star Wars and Marvel movies, but I don’t much care for comedies with a lot of gross body humor. Any character on a toilet played for laughs is not my thing.
I watch a lot of old, classic films. I have seen almost every Alfred Hitchcock movie, including most of his silent films and early talkies. I love European films. I don’t mind films without a traditional narrative arc and without a happy ending, i.e., Swedish films.
One thing I’m not fond of in films is allegory. I was all excited to see the Tom Hiddleston movie last year called High-Rise. It’s set in an English apartment development in the 1970s. The clip I first saw looked like it might be stylish science fiction. Nope.
I can’t recall at what point in the High-Rise when things went totally bonkers and I clued into the fact that now I was watching an allegory for Thatcherism. I haven’t been that disappointed in Tom Hiddleston since he wore an “I heart Taylor Swift” t-shirt.
So now let’s talk about how mother! has been promoted
Before seeing mother! last night I’d only seen two movie posters for it that seemed full of religious symbolism, read a blurb about how a married couple have uninvited guests that cause problems, and watched a trailer mostly featuring Jennifer Lawrence in an ash blond lacefront redecorating a Pottery Barn.
This in no way prepared me for the actual movie.
In a way, I really appreciate that the trailer doesn’t give away anything past the first thirty minutes or so of the film. The biggest giveaway is that Ed Harris, the Man in Black from Westworld, and Michelle Pfeiffer, a sexy old Cat Lady, are really bad, horny house guests.
Is this movie horror? Is it sci-fi? Are there demons or witches or (scariest of all) senators. Nope. Nopety nope nope.
This trailer shows a tiny bit of the larger scope of the movie.
mother! is horrifying, but not traditional horror
While mother! gets raw and violent and bloody and so screamy I want to send Jennifer Lawrence a basket of lozenges and a cold compress, it’s not a classic horror movie in that it is not a haunted house and there are no magical or supernatural creatures, per se.
Still, people laughed when they figured out what was going on, gasped when it really cranked up, and even screamed at one point (okay, that was all me.)
There is a scene so shocking (two parts of it, I thought) that I could tell some of the other audience members were angry. At the end of the film, people either walked out right away, or stumbled out slightly dazed.
As I walked out past the waitstaff who were in and out serving food during the screening, they said, “Intense, right? Wasn’t that something?” I lingered in the lobby for a few minutes talking to others, sharing the experience. Other groups waited out on the sidewalk talking about what we’d just seen. The viewers who’d seemed angry had not lingered.
Much like The Passion of the Christ; The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; The Passion; Pulp Fiction; Antichrist; and Nymphomanic, this will be a polarizing film. You will love it or hate it, no in between. Mother! is either wow! or wtf!
Should you take anyone under 17?
See it first. It would take a very special young adult to be able to appreciate it. I took my 17-year-old daughter and I wish I’d pre-screened it first.
In my defense, I thought it was going to be a modern Rosemary’s Baby. I’m not totally happy she has some of that in her head. Frankly, as an audience member I would not want to look around and see kids in the audience.
But what actually happens?
There is no way to talk about the movie and not spoil the experience for you. If you think you want to see it, go in blind and just relax into it. There are no jump scares or clowns, if that helps.
What is actually in mother!
Okay, here are some potential spoilers. mother! has (highlight to read) strong language, graphic violence, partial and very unsexy nudity, burning flesh, old people humping discreetly, fratricide, blood, direct shots to the head with light exploding, a naked old man in a bathtub, and brief, shocking, allegorical cannibalism, and Kristen Wiig.
Want more? Read my full mother! movie spoiler here.