Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’ is a film that is bound to draw in the most extreme of reactions, and features a nameless couple, Him (Javier Bardem) and his wife Mother (Jennifer Lawrence), who lead an almost halcyon existence in a mansion, that Mother had been busy reconstructing all by herself, after a fire had charred it down some time back.
When the Man (Ed Harris), who claims to be a bewitched admirer of the poet that Him is, and the Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) barge in, Mother finds her tranquil paradise unsettled. Much to her chagrin, very soon the latter couple’s sons follow suit and engage in a bloody fight right within the house, which leaves one of them dead. Mother is equally terrified at the turn of events and the bizarre compassion and empathy that Him showers on the visitors, despite her impassioned protests and fervent requests to make them leave.
The latter half of the film has Him finally overpowering the writer’s block that he has been wrestling with, as well as the disturbing apprehensions regarding his own potence. Mother declares that she is pregnant and Him finishes off his new poem; one that is widely lauded and which brings his admirers flocking to their house in hordes, even as a petrified Mother delivers her baby only to discover that she has lost it!
The Biblical allusions that ‘Mother!’ abounds with – be it that of God, Nature, Adam & Eve, Cain and Abel – are all palpably there, and yet the swelling complexity that shrouds all of these makes ‘Mother’ an excruciating watch. There are also the liberal doses of obscurity that Aronofsky leaves all around, throwing open the ground to personal interpretations, which further convolutes things.
Aronofsky seems to have strategised a mammoth Biblical allegory in ‘Mother!’, but one that is replete with motley symbols that remain concealed within the text and the sub-texts. This stark lack of coherence and the absence of a fascinating design render the film a labyrinthine attempt that is a bit too obsessed with itself and much less about its characters, despite riveting performances from Lawrence, Bardem and the rest of the cast.