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I vividly remember sitting in a movie theater in 1999 as the end credits for REQUIEM FOR A DREAM began to roll. I’m certain I have referenced this singular event on more than one occasion, because it was such a transformative moment in my fledgling love for cinema. My jaw was planted firmly to the floor, and I knew that I had just witnessed the work of one of the most innovative and fearless filmmakers on the planet. Up until that point, Darren Aronofsky had achieved a moderate amount of success with his independent hit PI, but nothing could have prepared me, and audiences everywhere, for the shocking, vicious, and unfiltered glimpse into the horrors of addiction that unfolded during REQUIEM. Since then, Aronofsky has had his share of creative hits (THE WRESTLER, BLACK SWAN) and misses (NOAH) but whether you are a fan or not, there is no debating that the man makes movies that are unlike anything else you’re likely to see in the mainstream. As divisive as the majority of his films have been, there is no doubt that his latest venture, MOTHER!, is the destined to be the most polarizing of all.

Jennifer Lawrence plays an unnamed woman (I’ll refer to her here as Mother) who lives in an old home with her unnamed husband (Javier Bardem, who I’ll refer to him as Poet.) We learn that he is a writer who is in the throes of a nasty case of writer’s block, while she is a homemaker who has made it her mission to rebuild her husband’s home from the ground up. The house had been heavily damaged by a fire, and Mother is determined to restore the structure to its former glory. The couple seem to live an isolated, minimalist existence, so, when two unexpected visitors (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfieffer) arrive, Mother feels immediately uncomfortable. The Poet, on the other hand, is more than willing to invite the strangers into their home with open arms. As uneasy as Mother is about the arrangement, she plays the role of dutiful wife and abides by her husband’s wishes.

Jennifer Lawrence plays an unnamed woman, who lives in an old home with her unammed husband suffering from writer’s block.

If you go into MOTHER! expecting to witness a typical psychological thriller or home-invasion horror flick, you’re going to be very disappointed. In fact, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you; you’re going to be downright furious. The first half of Aronofsky’s film plays out like a fairly straight forward affair, but as the number of guests who arrive at the isolated farmhouse begins to grow, so do the complexities of the production. Your capability of enjoying MOTHER! will solely depend on your ability to keep an open mind, and whether or not you are willing to abandon convention.

Lawrence gives another dynamic, brazen performance that exemplifies why she is one of the most sought after and accomplished performers in Hollywood. She is a starlet who is comfortable and convincing in popcorn blockbusters like THE HUNGER GAMES, X-MEN and PASSENGERS, but can also command the screen in ventures like SILVER LINING’S PLAYBOOK and WINTER’S BONE. With MOTHER! she provides a turn that, regardless of your overall opinion of the film itself, is undeniably raw and intense. Although timid and soft spoken in the early goings, as the story progresses, she grows increasingly frustrated and frantic. Strangers pile into her home at an alarming rate, with no real explanation of why they or there, or when they will leave. These nameless entities tear down her fragile walls and upturn her careful constructed sense of isolation. As they do, Lawrence goes through a remarkable transformation. Feelings of fear, fury, tolerance, and hate rage through her, and she is more mesmerizing with each passing minute.

Michelle Pfeiffer is greeted at the door by Jennifer Lawrence in a film that truly pushes the boundries of the movie viewing experience.

MOTHER! is a challenge, and while some (okay, MANY) will undoubtedly leave frustrated and confused, I was completely transfixed. The film is easily the most polarizing production of the year, and there are many who have been vocal in their outright disdain. Admittedly, it can prove to be a headscratcher. Since its release, Aronofsky has given interviews where he divulges the meaning behind the story, but he also encourages viewers to go in with an open mind, and to decide for themselves what the allegory stands for. To me, his explanation, which I will avoid including here for spoiler purposes, made perfect sense and is aligned with what I inferred that MOTHER! was about. In this regard, I truly believe that he achieved exactly what he set out to do. I can also certainly understand the argument that you shouldn’t need a scene-by-scene explanation in order to enjoy it.

Although timid and soft spoken in the early goings, as the story progresses, she grows increasingly frustrated and frantic.

Whether you love or hate MOTHER!, there is little doubt that you will have strong feelings about it either way. This should not come as a surprise for those familiar with Aronofsky’s work, because, for the most part, he has been challenging audiences for the past two decades now. He is obviously not concerned with achieving the adoration from the masses, but rather, a filmmaker who likes to push boundaries and challenge those willing to watch.

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film. 



RUN TIME: 2h 1min

GENRE: Drama, Horror, Mystery

STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence,

Javier Bardem, Ed Harris , Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Dohmhal Gleeson

DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky WRITER: Darren Aronofsky

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.