Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfieffer, Domnhall Gleeson, and Kristin Wiig.
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky
Where I Watched It: Amazon
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Description Provided By: Deluxe
Narrated By: Jedidiah Barton
The Plot: I wish I could explain this in a way that actually reflects the plot of the film. But, a young girl (Lawrence) and her husband (Bardem) live in a house that is unlike any other. She begins to have her life upended when a visitor (Harris) arrives, but he will not be the last visitor.
What Does or Does Not Work: This one is a tough cookie to crack, because everyone will have their own opinions on this film. I didn’t see this film on release, but polarizing is a great way to categorize it. It’s also a perfect example of how picking Oscar nominees at the beginning of the year based on what they look like on paper isn’t an actual way to do anything. Because sometimes, you get Mother.
Is this film bad? i think that’s subjective. I believe that there is a percentage of the population that will adore this film, and they’ll spend years defending it to the death, and finding a little community of people who found this movie to be profound. If the film studio had realized that Mother had no mass appeal, and instead of pushing it as a wide release, focused on these art house cinemas, garnering the attention of hardcore Aronofsky fans who have already spent the past 10 years defending The Fountain on its merits, Mother might not be such a film that’s immediately associated with failure.
It’s not that Mother is bad, per say, but rather that it is not an accessible film. From the very beginning, Aronofsky refuses to build you into the madness, and within minutes already lets you know that there’s something living inside the walls of this house. We don’t know why, we don’t know what, but something is in there, and it changes the mood of the film.
From that point on, the mystery and intrigue is changed. What could be an interesting and slow reveal about Aronofsky’s true intentions is already distracted by the fact that regardless of how this story plays out amongst the humans, all is not well inside this house. Is this a horror film? Science fiction? you’re not sure, but you’re thrown off, instead of letting the dread build. If you take the living house out of the equation, what you have is one of those Stepford type films that Jordan Peele likes to do, where people are choosing to do things normal people wouldn’t do, and you have a protagonist seemingly as the only one who notices anything wrong.
As the story progresses, it becomes more and more uncomfortable, and increasingly violent. There were some violence and gore descriptions that found me in that rare moment where I was grateful to not have literally seen that. I signed up for weird and artistic, sure. But, I tend to draw a line at baby eating.
By the end of the film, you’re supposed to be able to realize that this was all Aronofsky’s attempt to leave behind a staggering work of genius representative of how he interprets the Bible, God, and religion in general.
The cast is fine, with all of them doing their part to contribute to the eccentricities of the story, but the challenge will come to the audience as to what they are willing to tolerate. Will those religious types be offended by the obvious comparisons? Will you be sickened by the violence shown on screen? It’s each of these choices that limits the scope of this film, and it’s one of those rare occasions where I can say that this grade reflects my opinion on the film, but I can also see the other side of it. I’m just not on that side.
There likely are critics who believe this is nothing short of IMDB Top 250 brilliant. I’ve met film fanatics online who will take a bullet for this film, so i assume some critics will. I’m fairly certain it’s not certified fresh, or even fresh. But I’m also certain it’s not at zero.
So if you’ve come here to see if my opinion on mother will sway you into finally watching it, I’m not endorsing it. But you need to know your own film preferences. My guess, if you hate mainstream cinema (especially comic book films), think Hereditary is the best film you’ve ever seen, and Robert Eggers is already in your top 5 directors, than this might be your film. But if your favorite film is Pixar, you love romantic comedies, and your favorite Jennifer Lawrence film is The Hunger Games, you should probably find something else to watch.
The Blind Perspective: Jedidiah and deluxe churned out some audio description that wasn’t easy to put together. They had to write unnerving audio description, and jedidiah had to read a whole ton of really uncomfortable and violent things. So, I applaud them for including all the little details, because this is meticulous assembly by Darren Aronofsky.
Final Thoughts: Like I said, this didn’t work for me. I never need to see this film again. But unlike some other films I’ve seen, where I think it’s impossible to love such atrocious garbage, this is one where I admit this film isn’t bad, it just has limited appeal, and I wasn’t in the perfect spot of that Venn diagram.
Final Grade: D