Friday, October 6, 2017
½★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
"I'm sorry, but not even drugs could result in this film."
That quote from my friend, after I told her the entire plot of Mother!, perfectly encapsulates how I felt about this film. It's such a crazily put-together film that is an absolute cinematic abomination.
The film focuses on Mother (played by Jennifer Lawrence) & Him (played by Javier Bardem), a couple living in an isolated & recently renovated house. Mother is a housewife, while Him is a famous poet suffering from writer's block.
One day, Man (played by Ed Harris) shows up at the house, asking for a room, mistaking it for a bed & breakfast. Him is more than happy to let Man stay; however, Mother is reluctant to let a stranger stay in their house. Eventually, she agrees to let Man stay. Man coughs a lot while he is in their house, & Mother sees a fresh wound near his rib. It is made clear that he is dying, & that he wanted to meet Him before he died.
The next day, Man's wife, Woman (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), arrives at the house. Woman is very upfront with Mother on certain topics, including the fact that Mother & Him have not had children. Not too long after that, Man & Woman's children, Older Son (played by Domhnall Gleeson) & Younger Brother (played by Brian Gleeson) arrive, fighting over who gets more from their parents' will.
Eventually, more & more guests come to the house, all wanting to see Him. But Mother has had enough. She demands everyone leave, & when they don't listen, Mother becomes enraged.
The cast is acceptable. Lawrence & Pfeiffer give the best performances of the film, while Bardem & Harris are good as well. However, due to the material they were given, they don't really come out as great performances.
Darren Aronofsky's direction is unfocused. Aronofsky is a great director, but here, he focuses way too much on style over substance (namely violence for the sake of violence to the point where it becomes extreme overkill), especially in the third act. The film is intended to be a parable on how we're destroying Mother Earth, & I agree with Aronofsky's idea to critique our actions, but the way he did it ends up looking like a complete mess.
Aronofsky's screenplay is absolutely awful. His narrative ranges from confusing & boring over the first two acts of the film, to disgusting & absolutely sick in the final act. The last 30 minutes of the film are the worst I've seen in the history of cinema. It treats its characters terribly, especially Lawrence's character. Also, the way he executed it with the religious metaphors that are dumped like a blizzard onto the script are complete & utter overkill.
Matthew Libatique's cinematography is good. It's great in the first two acts of the film, but by the third act, it becomes so shaky & chaotic that it makes you feel like you're on a bad drug trip.
Andrew Weisblum's editing is horrendous. Weisblum is a great editor (especially for Black Swan), but his editing here is just purely terrible. The film is horribly paced, making the film's 121-minute runtime feel like 4 hours, & because of that, I felt like I was trapped in the theater against my will. Also, the editing tends to be too frenetic, especially in the third act.
And the sound design is a mess. It's too jarring that it completely takes you away from the film, especially in the third act.
I understand why people like this film. I really do. And I like films that are really outside of the mainstream, like this film. However, the way this film was made was just so frenetic & mediocre that I could not like this film one bit. It is the worst film I've ever seen. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, & no qualities that make it so bad it's good.
To quote the late, great film critic Roger Ebert, in his review for the 1994 film North, "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every stupid simpering vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to its audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."
I can't speak for everyone about liking & being entertained by it, but I certainly didn't. I never want to experience this film again.
Mother! was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Friday, September 15, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 121 minutes, & it is rated R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity & language.