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Mother!

Alright friends and readers–this one is probably doubly filled with typos and grammar errors because I wrote it while angry. Good luck and happy reading.


There are unpopular opinions in every realm. As a film student, you can truly strike a nerve when you say things like, "I fucking hate the self-indulgence of independent films and the way people idolize them." Or, you know, "Low lighting and slow pacing does not a good movie make." Or whatever.

You can of course, objectively, understand how this happens. When you are creating art–when you are outside the system so to speak–you are free to explore things (subjects, techniques, etc.) that may need to be addressed and that freedom can become intoxicating and go to one's head. While it may seem only right or only fair to respect and accept each creative endeavor that every artist undertakes, it is unreasonable to believe that the world will remain forever patient with the self-obsession artists have.

The thing though, about art, is that it is subjective meaning we can each read our own thoughts and feelings into each piece of art we experience. This fact gives extended life and reach to our patience.

So what can we read in Darren Aronofsky's Mother!?

Religious allegory (of course.) A favorite of many artists. I mean, how very expected, right? If you're going to exist (primarily) in the independent world, go ahead and bring something new to the table.

A portrait of what it means to be an artist–wrestling with the need to be loved VS the ability to love. A conversation on how creating art is work and it's not easy or fun and that artists give all of themselves in order to entertain audiences and even when those audiences become fanatical, artists still don't feel truly appreciated because what they have given to the world is so deeply personal that it takes an enormous toll on the creative soul.

A commentary on violence and how we've culturally turned "murder into art."

A statement about how men control women–about righteous female rage at the patriarchy which strips them of control, ignores their needs, uses them up, and eventually kills them. As Jennifer Lawrence screams in the final act of the movie, "You never loved me. I gave you everything." It even feels somewhat reminiscent of stories like The Yellow Wallpaper or gothic classics penned by Bronte sisters where women having feelings that might not be polite or demure are obviously hysterical and will be forced by the rest of the world into a legitimate breakdown where they take drastic action just to make the gaslighting and condescension stop.

Philosophical musing on how we each create our own realities and trap ourselves in endless cycles–doomed forever to repeat our own mistakes...unless we stop letting the need for other people to adore us control our lives. This is, of course, some sort of sideways commentary on how social-media has ruined relationships, made us all complete narcissists, and ultimately destroyed traditional family structures.

If you'd rather grab another lens, we could talk about influences and how Mother! builds on traditional horror tropes of possessed or evil locations making the people living within them go crazy (Amityville being the obvious reference here–but there are tons of others.) OR how the surreal vignettes seen around the house coupled with the disconcerting silence seems strikingly like watching The Shining.

No? Okay–how about the creeping sensation that Mother! is possibly a Rosemary's Baby scenario where a man leads his wife into a deadly trap that everyone but she is aware of, where her life is secondary to the ultimate goal of making himself successful.

More than any of that though, I couldn't help thinking, "Boy, Aronofsky really learned a fucking ton from watching Titus." What do they say? Trends cycle every 20 years? Well, he's just about hit that one on the head.

So, what did work for me in this one?

Gloriously uncomfortable emotional moments. A crushing sense of dread. Disconcerting surreality that deteriorates into complete absurdity, the way dreams often do.

That said, the credits began to roll and I literally threw my notebook to the ground shouting at my husband, "I fucking hate independent films and I fucking knew better than to watch it."

What can I say, I'm predictably impatient with other people's emotions.

You can watch the trailer for Mother! here:

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