Acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky presented this weekend what was, perhaps, his most experimental film, and it is one of the most menacing and cringe-worthy movies of the last decade – a compliment to the director’s way of filming.
Aronofsky’s “mother!” has the pleasure of being different from the mainstream media’s portrayal of the hero’s journey. This is not an unfamiliar theme in his films.
However, as weird and different as “mother!” is, I didn’t have the most positive outlook on the film when the end credits rolled.
The rundown of “mother!”, as said in Paramount Pictures’ synopsis, reads “a couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.”
This movie is difficult to unravel without spoiling.
David Maldonado, SF State cinema major, said, “[‘mother!’] seems demonic in a way.”
Maldonado’s comment, as well as the film, can be taken figuratively or literally.
Aronofsky made “mother!” as a statement about how he personally views the world today. It’s as grotesque and messed up as you think.
“I really wanted to make this kind of allegory about Mother Nature and our place and our connection to our home,” said Aronofsky in a New York Times interview. “And so I cast Jennifer Lawrence as that spirit and then I had this breakthrough of using, to tell the story of humanity, the stories of the Bible.”
Light words from a movie that made the audience say “what the hell was that?” after it ended.
Film students can study “mother!” because it is told as an allegory. Aronofsky made a film that may not be for the mass audience, but for those who want to study cinema as an art and be challenged by what a film can or cannot be.
Chaz Thrive Volk, SF State cinema department alumnus, who loved Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream” and “Black Swan,” spoke on the film playing with hidden meanings.
“I think that’s a great thing, but it works at a slight disadvantage,” said Volk. “While the movie is incredibly intellectual, it can certainly appeal to a certain audience, but if it’s too intricate, only a small amount of people are going to watch it.”
Looking back at my viewing of “mother!,” my conclusion is that it plays out more pretentiously than an arthouse movie. It’s a view of Aronofsky’s mind and what his perception of the world is, but sometimes being too creative can be too on-the-nose while simultaneously looking down at the audience.
There is complexity to the writer/director combination. Aronofsky is, in this case, both roles. Desiree Walker, SF State Cinema major, brings up the difference between having two separate entities producing a story and both bottled up in one mind.
“I think to achieve an individual story and style goal, having the writer and director existing in one mind definitely helps to smooth the overlap between the two roles,” Walker said. “On the other hand, though, there isn’t that outside source of additional input for creativity when translating a written piece into a directed film.”
Aronofsky’s choice in being both writer and director, in this instance, was not the best solution in terms of creativity.
The dramatic imagery and allegorical storytelling wasn’t for me, but that isn’t to say nobody will like “mother!”.
Walker agrees that when a film gets to be too creative, there is still a market.
“I feel that being able to have the creativity to come up with an original film concept and tastefully realize it is much more valuable in terms of longevity as a filmmaker,” said Walker.
“mother!” is not a straightforward film that gives you a happy ending. In fact, the director’s vision showed the audience that the open ending for “mother!” is still up to society.
Aronofsky’s “mother!” is a film that needs to be re-watched to grasp its full potential as a film. Even though my first viewing was negative, the replay value will hold its place and possibly open a different door in perceiving it.
I still applaud Aronofsky for creating a film that breaks the boundary of art.
Julian Hoxter, SF State Cinema professor, says of the film industry, “Creative businesses need creative people.”