I finally saw Mother! last night (Exclamation point required). It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, based on all the review headlines. I guess without spoilers, you can never really be prepared for what it is, because of how singular it is.
I don’t know exactly what Mother! supposed to represent, but here are a few of my immediate impressions before reading any actual review:
Mother! is a dream. I’ve never seen a film that has better captured what a dream is like than Mother! Compare it to something like Inception, my feelings for which I have made very clear in the past. With Mother!, there is no traditional narrative. The reality keeps shifting, sometimes every view seconds. You have only a limited point of view. When you look away and look back, everything might have changed. Reality seems to barely be hanging on by a thread. There is even a bloody scab in the floor that symbolizes some deeper truth. Of course, this entire movie was a dream.
Mother! is a deep dive into the main character’s psyche. Just like with a dream, this movie delves into someone’s psyche. We have what is available to us in our consciousness, and then all kinds of layers and levels. We have thoughts, urges, memories, emotions that have been hidden away, sometimes locked behind doors. We try to paint everything over with a fresh coat, and pretend like all the ugly stuff doesn’t exist. If we can go digging below the surface, chaos might break out. Everything about this movie tells us something about how our minds work.
Mother! is about the nature of love. The story made this quite clear at the end, and is forcing a rewatch by starting over at the beginning. This story is about what it means to love someone, and how it can consume you. It is about jealousy, and control, and obsession.
Mother! is about the nature of artistic creation. Javier Bardem’s character is a writer, and the movie is all about his struggle to create, and what happens to that creation once you have given birth to it. It flies out of your control and it belongs to the world.
Mother! is about the illusion of control. This movie shows us that no matter how hard she tries, Jennifer Lawrence’s character’s desire to control the life around her is futile. We can’t make someone love us. We can’t protect our children from the dangers of the world. We can’t prevent the inevitable decay of everything around us no matter how many coats of paint we put up.
Mother! is about motherhood. The simplest explanations are sometimes the easiest. Mother! is about what it means to give birth to a living human being and then being forced to watch them live in the world.
What was Mother! really about? I can’t say for sure. All I know is I’m very compelled to watch it again.
That is all.