Movie Review: "Mother!"
A young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in a house in a remote location with her husband (Javier Bardem). After a bad fire, the house is in desperate need of repairs. While her author husband is busy trying to create his next great masterpiece, the young woman is busy fixing the house and making it feel like a home. One night, a strange man (Ed Harris) shows up at the front door and in need of a place to stay.
The author gladly invites him to stay at the house, but In the following nights, strange things begin to occur, as the strange man's family begins showing up at the house as well. As the days go by, everything starts to get even crazier, as the strangers begin to feel like the house belongs to them as well. The young woman does not know why her husband was so quick to bring these strangers in, but they keep pushing their limits and keep being destructive in her home. In order to save the house, the young woman has to try to convince her husband to send the strangers away before they destroy everything she has worked so hard to fix.
The Pros & Cons
No Statement (-4pts)
Jennifer Lawrence (+8pts)
Nonsensical Plot (-10pts)
Javier Bardem (+6pts)
Chaotic Ending (-5pts)
Pro: Metaphors (+6pts)
I will do my best to avoid spoilers at this point, but there were a ton of metaphors in this movie. I will not say what those metaphors were, but they addressed things like humanity, our impact on this planet, and creation itself. I will not go any further into what they were because making you try to piece it together was what this film was all about. That being said, I do think audiences will have a better experience with this movie if they realize that the movie was much more than what it appeared to be on the surface
Realize that, as crazy as the film gets—and it gets extremely crazy)—there was absolutely nothing random that happened in this house. Everything had some sort of meaning behind it, so be sure to watch the film with that in mind. Pay attention to everything that you see and ask yourself questions like, "What does that mean?", "What does that character represent?", and "What is the metaphor that explains what that character is doing?". There were a crazy amount of metaphors and symbolism throughout the film. The characters, the house, where the characters were standing, what the characters were doing, what floor the characters were on, and so on. All of these things had some sort of hidden meaning behind them and the filmmakers threw so much in here that there is no possible way that a viewer could catch all of it in their first viewing. This was a crazy movie, but it was fun to try to speculate what and where the metaphors were.
Con: No Statement (-4pts)
This film had so much to say, but it ended up saying nothing. That sounds like a complicated statement, I know, but what I mean by that is that the filmmakers threw such an incredibly large amount of symbolism at the audience that it ended up being unable to add much significant focus to any one piece of symbolism. Basically, it a ton of symbolism, but it all felt random and without impact. The movie made no statement as to what the audience should take away from the movie. The filmmakers basically just threw an insane amount of symbolism at the audience and said "take away from this film whatever you want to take away from it". Some say that this is what made this movie artistic. I disagree, and I think that it was lazy filmmaking, as the filmmakers did not seem to want to take a stance on anything.
They wanted to play it safe, while pretending they were being bold, so they produced a vague movie with a ton of vague symbolism. My comments to the filmmakers—who are absolutely reading this—would be to remember the saying "quality over quantity". Your movie being good is not dependent on how many metaphors you can cram into it. Your movie being good is dependent on the quality of those metaphors. Some may think that this movie was about climate change. Others may think that it was about the biblical apocalypse. The truth is that it could have been about anything, but this film was simply too vague with the statement it was trying to make, and I felt that it lost impact with its audience as a result.
Pro: Jennifer Lawrence (+8pts)
This movie simply would not work without a great lead actress. This is especially true when the film was shot using—almost exclusively—close-up views of the main character's face to see her reactions to things. The entire film was really from her character's perspective. It was not about the events that occurred, but instead, was about her character's reaction to those events.
Fortunately for this film, Jennifer Lawrence did a great job of carrying most of the movie on her back. With all the craziness that occurred, her character was just as baffled and confused about it as the audience was. This let the audience put themselves in her shoes. Jennifer Lawrence had to react—with a camera almost close enough to touch her face—to a ton of insanity and odd behavior from other characters, all while keeping her reactions compelling enough that the audience did not lose interest. Doing so many close-ups had to be challenging, but Jennifer Lawrence was able to keep me engaged.
Con: Nonsensical Plot (-10pts)
The plot for the film was absolutely insane and made no sense. The plot could be simplified as "Jennifer Lawrence's character tries to clean up a house, things get absolutely crazy for no reason." That was what made the plot so irritating, there was just no reason for what was happening. The filmmakers cared so much about cramming a ton of metaphors into this movie that they never bothered to write an even halfway decent plot to tie it all together. It was just one random metaphor after another.
This movie is far from perfect, and that is largely due to the fact that everything felt so random and out of place. What was even worse was that I feel like the randomness was another metaphor. Seeing everything from Jennifer Lawrence's perspective should feel random, but when you are making a movie, there needs to be some sort of story for the audience to follow. Otherwise, it would just feel like a meaningless couple of hours, which is exactly what happened.
Pro: Javier Bardem (+6pts)
I will keep this point brief to avoid spoilers, but Javier Bardem did a great job in this movie. The entity he played—which I will not reveal—had a lot of conflicting emotions. The character was not perfect in the movie, which I believe will anger a lot of people, and his presence in the movie at all will annoy others. I was okay with it for what it was. The character was a metaphor that was used in an attempt to shed light on how our species has impacted this planet. It was a fictitious representation of a very well known figure, but it was fictitious so did not have to be "accurate" to our idea of that figure.
Anyway, Javier Bardem did a great job of capturing the complexity of this entity's emotions. He meant well, but he was unable to care for everything all at once. Thus, as he began to invite strangers into his house, Jennifer Lawrence's entity felt neglected. I liked how this was done and I really enjoyed the scenes between Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, where his entity tried his best to balance everything—yet ultimately failed to do so.
Con: Chaotic Ending (-5pts)
Okay, this is another point in which I will have to be vague in order to avoid spoilers. The ending of this film was extremely chaotic. There was so much happening and it made very little sense. This was clearly done intentionally—another metaphor I am sure—but it was too overwhelming to have any impact. It was yet another example of an area in which the filmmakers were too concerned with adding a metaphor and did not care whether or not it would make the movie too confusing to follow. Do not get me wrong, I understood what it meant, but it felt extremely random and simply did not work for me.
Grade: C+ (76pts)
This was a movie with a ton of metaphors, and it was fun to try to guess and speculate what they were and where they were. As I was doing this, I quickly realized that there was absolutely nothing coincidental here; every tiny detail had some hidden meaning. It was up to the audience to determine what those meanings were, and that is where I believe the film lost quite a bit of steam. The filmmakers crammed in so many metaphors that none of them got any proper focus, so they did not end up having any significant impact on the audience. Fortunately, the lead actors delivered strong performances. While Javier Bardem did a great job at playing a very complex role, it was Jennifer Lawrence that stole the show. With so many close-ups, the film could have easily fallen apart as the audience lost interest, but Jennifer Lawrence was able to keep me engaged throughout the movie.
For a movie that had so much to say, it did a surprisingly poor job of conveying its messages to the audience. Some people will love this movie, others will hate it, and many will fall somewhere in the middle. I think that has something to do with the expectations going into the film. This movie was one big metaphor that was filled with somewhat smaller metaphors. However, this movie was so crazy and absent of any real plot that all of those metaphors had little to no impact. Good or bad, you will have plenty of thoughts on this movie—if you see it—and it can result in some interesting conversations. However, I personally did not really enjoy it.