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Five Reasons Why “mother!” Sucks

September 15, 2017

mother

And just when I thought I couldn’t be more disappointed in a movie than I was in Baby Driver… along comes mother! Like another of this year’s biggest cinematic letdowns, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, Darren Aronofsky’s latest fever dream punishes us for more than two hours by hitting the same note over… and over… and over… until we go insane. How did I hate mother!? Let me count the ways…

It makes no sense. I don’t mind a movie that’s open to interpretation, but this one falls into the category of “cryptic yet meaningless.” Here’s a quick plot summary: Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a married couple who receive an unexpected visit from some extremely strange strangers (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer). Now repeat that and multiply ad nauseam. It’s basically a horror movie about annoying houseguests who won’t leave. Saturday Night Live did it better with John Belushi, Jane Curtin and Bill Murray — in a minute and 15 seconds.

The cast is utterly wasted. Speaking of Saturday Night Live, one of its most gifted alums shows up late in the film — I won’t spoil who it is, though I don’t think you can spoil such a rotten movie — which makes mother! seem even more like a sick (and unfunny) joke. The four main characters have one personality trait apiece, and they’re given no backstories that might help us care about them. So we don’t.

Darren Aronofsky is one creepy mother! Not since David Lynch sexually tortured his real-life girlfriend Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet has a filmmaker so reveled in the degradation of his alleged off-screen love. J-Law is stripped nude by a vicious mob, beaten, brutalized and burned. Aronofsky’s ex Rachel Weisz seriously dodged a bullet (and upgraded by marrying Daniel Craig).

The movie isn’t disturbing, just disorienting. There’s a difference, Darren. Go back and re-watch your masterpiece, Requiem for a Dream, to remind yourself what it’s like to create a truly powerful psycho-drama. This is like Black Swan Lite — and Black Swan was pretty light to begin with, if you ask me. Keeping a camera tight on J-Law as she stumbles through a creepy old house is the definition of cheap thrills.

It leaves us wanting less. The ending is an embarrassing cop-out — it’s like something from a freshman English major’s really long short story. We’re left with unanswered questions about what it all means. Is this suffering a metaphor for fame? Parenthood? Religion? Who cares? Perhaps picking up on a line J-Law offhandedly delivers about the apocalypse, the closing credits feature Skeeter Davis singing, “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” If only we were so lucky.

 

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