Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Darren Aronofsky
“A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence” (IMDB).
What to Expect
Jennifer Lawrence politely tells people to stop fucking with her home
Javier Bardem constantly keeps inviting people in to fuck up his home
Frustration at people not. Ever. Listening.
Why You Should Watch It
I read an article written sometime after everyone had decided Mother! was a shit movie that explained quite well as to why it flopped. Namely, the audience doesn’t like when a film pretends to be a genre it’s not. Everyone thought Mother! was going to be a horror or psychological thriller, and it isn’t even close. It’s just a huge allegory that remains largely quiet in the beginning and then somewhere towards the end derails from everything you thought it was going to be and becomes so outrageous it’s flat-out laughable. So, watch it, but don’t have any expectations for it. Because they’ll get blown out of the water. But honestly, it will be more enjoyable this way.
As to why you should watch it, do it to debate with your close friends about which allegorical theory you believe it ascribes to, and to inevitably segue into a heated discussion about religion.
Rainy Day Flick (C)
I wasn’t joking: I really liked this movie because I feel it can be (and is) interpreted in so many different ways, and it’s so heavily allegorical that there’s no way you can catch or understand everything on the first watch. Critical analysis may not be everyone’s favorite cup of tea, but this shit is my jam and scones. I’ve come up with three theories on who Lawrence and Bardem are supposed to represent. Before I get into them, though, here are the most obvious parts of the film I caught upon first viewing:
The allegory is biblical. The relationship between God and humanity figures greatly in Mother!, and the parallels to Adam, Eve, the Garden of Eden, Cain, Abel, and Jesus Christ are hard to miss. I even thought the literal representation of the eucharist was a clever aside, however disturbing (it also begs the question, if a figurative ritual is made literal, is its meaning still figurative?). In addition, Aronofsky appears to enjoy hammering in the idea that humans are ungrateful annoyances who have never and can never do anything to earn God’s love. All we ever do is take, violate, and blame. Nothing good ever seems to come from our existence. Anywho, here are my theories:
- He is God, she is Mother Nature/Earth. Obviously this theory holds the most water and is how most people interpret Mother!. In this case, the aforementioned taking and violating the humans do are to Nature herself. Some may argue Lawrence represents the Virgin Mary, as she births “Jesus,” but I feel Mary is too narrow of an idea. For starters, Lawrence’s character is with Bardem for what appears to be the entire stretch of humanity. Mary was one human who lived an average human life-span. God created Earth, and Mary was of Earth—that is to say, God and Earth are two separate entities. Mother Nature encompasses every being on her, including Mary. The holy union between God and Mary was actually between God and Mother Nature; Mary was just one part of Her.
- They are two parts of the Holy Trinity. He is the Father, the baby is the Son, and she is the Holy Spirit. After all, Lawrence was the one who told “Adam and Eve” to leave, and later set fire to everything in what could be considered the Apocalypse. She reflects at once the patience and the Old Testament anger of God, while he reflects the eternally forgiving New Testament Lord. She sees every flaw of humanity, and emotionally suffers through it, while he loves humanity in spite of it, and remains physically untouched. When the baby is murdered, he is sad, but is willing to take the sacrifice. Meanwhile, she is beside herself at having witnessed the horrors of what humans can do. Together, they make up the complex and multi-faceted biblical description of God.
- He is Human Nature, she is God. To quote Nietzsche, “God is dead, and we killed him.” In this theory, God is a construct of Human Nature. Because of this, She can be hurt and destroyed. But it is Human Nature to continually believe in a higher power, so She is continually reborn. She is a scapegoat for all of humanity’s shortcomings; violated and then blamed. And She is hopelessly in love with Human Nature because it is exactly our nature which makes us believe we always deserve love in the first place. In a similar vein, Bardem’s rabid following represents mankind’s incorrigible narcissism. We want to be loved because it confirms the obsession we have with ourselves.
Aronofsky has admitted that JLaw’s character is Mother Nature (go figure, it’s in the title), BUT he also says that was just a starting point for the plot, and the allegory does not fit perfectly with the story of the Bible, especially at the end. So, I believe the film can still be read to fit any of these theories, even overlapping on themselves—such as Him as God, but God also as a construct of human nature; or God as synonymous with Mother Nature.