Darren Aronofsky’s MOTHER! is a nightmarish fable about Creation. I enjoyed both its artistic ambition and execution. Packed with ideas, it offers a powerful religious allegory that for me is a breath of fresh air in Hollywood’s normal annual parade of derivative explosion-filled crap.
A nameless couple, played by Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence, live in a beautiful home in a lush wilderness. Bardem is a poet who is struggling to write again; Lawrence a devoted homemaker who every day continues to restore the home after it was scoured by a terrible fire years before. Then Man (Ed Harris) arrives, who confesses to being a lifelong fan of the poet. To Lawrence’s surprise, the poet invites him to stay, finding inspiration in his stories. The next day, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) comes. They treat Lawrence like an annoying unwanted guest and the house like garbage while giving the poet adoration. The poet becomes inspired to write a new masterpiece, which he shares with the world. Lawrence finds her home invaded hundreds of adoring worshippers, who abuse her and the house until she can’t take anymore.
If you view the film as a religious allegory, the dream-logic, angst-ridden story makes sense. (Stop reading now if you want to watch the movie completely uncolored by my interpretation.) You’ve got God as narcissist, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the apple, the banishment from Paradise, the Flood, the Bible, religious wars and persecution, Hell, and Jesus, all presented in a story that is engaging both cinematically and with its ideas. The most intriguing aspect is telling the story of Creation from Mother Earth’s point of view, who sees humans as unwanted, abusive guests and a blight in her house, along with the moral of the story, which is that humans might do well to focus some of their adoration on the planet that gives them life.
I really liked the movie, but I love that it got made at all. We need more challenging films like this.