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mother! Metaphoric but Hard to Watch

By Sandra Olmsted

mother lawrence bardem crowd

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in mother!, a new horror film in theaters now.

Writer/director Darren Aronofsky’s extended metaphor on the creative process is interesting, disturbing, and probably alluring to some. The film portrays the creative process as essentially violent and destructive and seems to say that very little of value is created by artists and writers.

The performances, especially by the leads Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are spectacular; however, you have to watch the film to see them.

The most off-putting problem is the emotional and physical violence. I have seen less violence and less disturbing violence in war films, such as Saving Private Ryan. As Mother (Lawrence) constantly renovates an isolated house from a fire, there’s a dash of mystical realism, because the house regenerates some on its own and seems to have a heart. The mystical element is interesting and may be why some people have raved about the film. Bardem seems to be the writer, who is only listed as “Him.”

The film is also way too long. The metaphor of destruction, renewal, intrusions by obnoxious strangers (Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer) and even mobs of zealous fans, and violent destruction again as an analysis of the creative process, could easily have been done in a 20 minute short film. It will also have most creative people thinking, “Thank goodness that’s not my process.” A short film would have spared the audience the pseudo suspense of long melancholy and confused looks, which, even though Lawrence does them well, barely keep the audience engaged.

A Paramount Pictures release, mother! is in theaters now and is rated R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity, and language and runs an endless 121 minutes. All this leads to the inevitable question, “Is the light from my phone bothering anyone?”


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