Is ‘Mother!’ a Head Trip? No, It’s an Allegory! Let the Term Papers Begin!

Mother
Paramount Pictures

A few weeks ago, when Darren Aronofsky’s aggressively out-there WTF head-trip horror movie “mother!” was oozing onto the radar, it seemed likely to be one of those films that provokes a fiercely divided response. Whatever scandals the movie had in store for us, one contingent, you could imagine, would embrace the outrage; the other would recoil from it. (That’s the way these things tend to go.) An early piece in The Guardian, out of London, suggested that “mother!” might be the most controversial film to emerge from a major studio since “A Clockwork Orange,” and that’s the kind of advertising you can’t buy. A hot potato like “mother!” doesn’t come along every day, or even every year, so it’s fun to be able to say: Let the shock — and fiery debates — begin!

But now that “mother!” has arrived in theaters, it’s proving to be a divisive film, though not in the way I described. The two camps might be summed up as follows: There are those who, like me, find the movie to be an overly busy and self-fixated provocation, with a superficially diverting what’s-going-to-happen-next? quality that doesn’t, in the end, add up to all that much. And then there are the Enlightened Ones: the ones who resist the vulgar calls for mere drama and coherence and welcome the opportunity to experience the film on a heady stoned level of symbolic deep-think. To this contingent (which, at this point, I would say describes the bulk of the reviews), “mother!” is a uniquely artful and visionary experience because it’s no mere story, no mere head-scratcher, but a great big swirling ball of metaphor. It is — to use the buzzword of the moment — an allegory.

I don’t know about you, but the sound of the word allegory makes me go to sleep a little. I love any number of films that are allegories (“The Seventh Seal,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Woman in the Dunes,” “The Tree of Life,” and — yes — “A Clockwork Orange”), but if “mother!” is an allegory, it’s one that’s all work and no fun. It’s an allegory of everything and nothing at the same time.

It was Aronofsky himself who got the allegorical ball rolling by issuing a lengthy “director’s statement” about “mother!” before the picture had even been shown. “It is a mad time to be alive,” he wrote. He then ticked off issues like overpopulation, species extinction, “schizophrenic” U.S. climate-change policy, ancient tribal disputes, the killing of baby dolphins, politics as sports, and our daily state of denial about all of the above. “From this primordial soup of angst and helplessness,” he wrote, “I woke up one morning and this movie poured out of me like a fever dream.”

Fair enough. It’s sometimes the job of a serious movie to channel the madness of the moment. But I saw “mother!,” and wrote a review of it at the Venice Film Festival, without having read Aronofsky’s statement, and the movie I saw was a quirky hermetic chamber drama in which the defining quality of the characters is how thinly drawn they are (from scene one, Javier Bardem’s blocked writer is a glowering cold jerk; Jennifer Lawrence’s wife is all willowy supportive innocence), and then some visitors show up, played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, who are over-the-top in their intrusive oddity, yet everyone seems naggingly cut off from the rest of the world, and so does the movie.

For a while, the quarrelsome drama is like the Edward Albee version of “Green Acres,” with Lawrence’s put-upon wife as the annoyed and perplexed Oliver Douglas character (everyone seems to be in on a conspiracy to make her feel like she’s the only one who doesn’t know why what’s happening is happening). On top of that, Aronofsky layers haunted-house tropes that root the movie, if not in the real world, then in the overly familiar world of megaplex genre pulp. His tropes are a bit more outré (a live pumping heart that seems to emerge from the walls, a floorboard bloodstain in the shape of a vagina), but our visceral reaction to this stuff is that it’s something that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Wan movie. It’s sometimes fun, but it signifies…very little.

Yet that, apparently, is where I have my blinders on. For as I’ve learned over the last few weeks, “mother!” is nothing but signifiers. It’s all an allegory. But an allegory of what?

The movie has been called a Biblical parable, with the Victorian octagonal house that Lawrence is renovating, surrounded by nothing but a stretching land of country green (no driveway!), as the Garden of Eden, and the other family that enters the picture, with its clashing adult sons, as a nod to Cain and Abel, and the broken sink symbolizing the Flood, and so on. None of this ever occurred to me, but if that’s what’s up there, it may suggest nothing so much as an allegory of Hollywood, with Aronofsky, like so many directors, recycling tried-and-true elements from his last film — in this case, the Old Testament hit “Noah.” Another layer of allegory in “mother!” descends from the title, and from the character names in the credits: Lawrence is playing “mother” (lower-case “m”), who is really Mother Earth, and Bardem is playing “Him” (capitalized), who is actually God.

At the same time, the film’s theme, pinging off the “Green Acres” factor, has been described in more than one place as “hell is other people.” As someone who’s often been more than a little guilty of feeling that way, I’m always up for a good hell-is-other-people movie. Yet the hell in “mother!” mostly consists of other people, like Pfeiffer’s overly noodgy and blaring drunk, acting in very broad ways that other people don’t tend to act.

There’s a fanboy element to the prospect of deconstructing what “mother!” is about. Instead of just sitting back and watching, you enter a video-game universe where nothing is what it seems and you learn how to master the game by deciphering what everything signifies. And in this case, it’s fanboy meets film snob. More than anything, “mother!” seems like a movie designed to please and flatter your inner grad student. If you can delineate the allegory, then you’re in the club. The club of people who get it! As opposed to a dumb-ass like me.

Yet reading some of the reviews of “mother!” has been, frankly, a more befuddling experience than “mother!” itself. Even those who love the movie can’t seem to agree on what it’s about. They appear to be high on the idea that this movie could give them a high. We’ve probably seen a mere preview of the treatises to come, on film-geek websites and in university cinema classes. Can “Divine Ghost in the Patriarchal Machine: Misogyny and the Fall in ‘mother!'” be far behind?

Here’s the problem. I do think that Darren Aronofsky meant to make a movie of many layers. It’s not that I don’t believe the “allegorical” levels of “mother!” exist. It’s that they’re too abstract — a theoretical frosting spread over the literal-minded cake of the movie itself. Allegory can be like that. You could take the worst horror film of the year, about an innocent couple on their honeymoon torn apart by their encounter with a demon, set that movie on an idyllic tropical island and call the demon “Snake,” and voilà! — you have the Adam and Eve story. But who cares? The allegory of “mother!” demonstrates that a movie can mean a whole lot without what it means meaning anything. And the box-office grosses of “mother!,” coupled with a rare F from CinemaScore, suggest that if satire is what closes on Saturday night, allegory is what crashes and burns on opening weekend (even if your lead actress is the biggest movie star on the planet).

Aronofsky, of course, ultimately brings the outside world smashing into “mother!” The world of fame and fan worship, of cataclysm and war. You could hardly miss those meanings, since the film hits you over the head with them. And critics, in their inflated rush to allegorize everything in “mother!,” have been quick to lump in the theme of the artist and his muse. But that theme isn’t an allegory in “mother!” It’s simply a basic dimension of the movie, executed in an overstated way, with Bardem as a celebrity poet (a celebrity poet? In 2017?) and Lawrence crushed by the surge of fame — the crowds, the editors, the handlers — that swirls around him.

That’s a good subject for a horror film, and maybe, as some have suggested, it represents Aronofsky drawing on his own experience as a highly celebrated Hollywood artist. (More than one wag has asked, “I wonder what Rachel Weisz” — Aronofsky’s ex-wife — “will make of this movie.”) But just because a movie has a meaning doesn’t make it an allegory. And just because a movie is an allegory doesn’t make it a good movie.

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  1. Sam A says:

    *slow clap* This one speaks truth. This movie was nothing but empty biblical allegory with a sprinkling of adjacent themes and people who think that’s smart only think its smart because they feel like they deciphered something grand and complex.

  2. Jennifer OConnor says:

    Really low blow about RW.

  3. Red Allover says:

    An allegory is a story where the characters embody abstract principles. Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” for example.
    The great allegorical film is “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Humankind is caught in the crossfire between God and the Devil.

  4. Stanley says:

    Dude, you’re a great reviewer and I loved you on the Bret Easton Ellis podcast but it sounds like you’re angry that people are discussing this movie in terms that you missed the first time around. I think it’ll get more analysis than it deserves, but I honestly don’t know how someone with a basic understanding of Western culture and Christianity doesn’t get who these characters are because the symbolism is SO heavyhanded. But I get it, I only watched one movie this week and had time to think about it. You guys are slammed with movie after movie, most of them nonsense, and a deadline to write what you thought of it. It’s been almost 24 hours since I saw Mother! and I STILL don’t know what I thought of it other than it’s an interesting experiment and as compelling as the message seems to be about the drive of a creator and the likely fact that we created He who we refer to as our Creator so why shouldn’t he be just as petty and awful as we are, I’m nowhere near misanthropic enough to agree with it.

  5. Chris U says:

    Worst movie I’ve ever seen. Pretentious, arrogant, self-indulgent POS. I’ve created a term for movies like this: MASTURBATORY EGO PROJECTS. It is exactly what it implies – the artist “getting off” on his own ideas while the audience stares back at the screen in disbelief that an actual film studio paid actual money to shoot this.

  6. Nathan says:

    My take on it:

    I think this movie is much easier to ‘understand’ than most people say…It helps to read Darren Aronofsky’s statement, but you don’t need to.

    Our world has gone mad & we are on the way to self-destruction.

    That’s the key concept.

    Why is humanity destroying itself ? The film offers overpopulation, tribal and religious conflicts, ecological catastrophies, the patriarchal exploitation of women, war, hedonism, egoism and ignorance as factors – a toxic mix, that results in the breakdown of social order and the victory of the irrational.
    It becomes a mad, mad world.

    Now add to that some negative metaphysics, that offer a possible answer who might be the evil mastermind at play here…God!

    Javier Bardem is characterized as creative God in the biblical sense, but he’s also cruel and feels no remorse when he kills his own son to please his cult.

    Just like God in the bible, right?

    God – as seen in “Mother!” – could easily be mistaken for Satan.
    Maybe they are both the same.
    And like to play a cruel theatre with humanity.
    Creating them for their own amusement.

    A few more observations on the symbols:

    Jennifer Lawrence destroys the house (=world) by setting fire on the oil in her cellar.
    Oil is a major force of self-destruction here, just like in real-life.

    Javier Bardem & J. Lawrence & the cult feed on their own babies.
    That’s actually what humanity does right now:
    By destroying nature and the planet,
    we eat out children ir deny them an existence.

    It’s fascinating stuff, but Darren should have worked more on the screenplay. It just needed better dialogue, more powerful scenes and a stronger ending. And they should have kept Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer until the end. They just vanish after the first half…big mistake.

    Still, while it’s not a total success, it grows on you.

    It’s probably the most surreal film Hollywood has produced since “Fight Club”.

  7. Joy Gill says:

    I haven’t cried this bad at a movie in years. I loved this movie. We have to do better. We have to treat the earth BETTER. We are killing her.

    • Julian says:

      No, we aren’t. We may be killing ourselves, but the earth was here for billions of years before us, and it will be here long after we’ve killed ourselves off.

  8. Steven S. says:

    SPOILER ALERT: At the screening I went to Darren Aronofsky told us straight up what it’s about. I sort of think the film is brilliant now that I know. (Before I knew I thought it was an artistic “American Horror Story,” over the top style with little substance. Impressively made and with a hard to define impact.) STOP READING NOW if you don’t want to know the symbolism. He is God, She is Mother Earth, the first couple are Adam & Eve with their sons Cain & Abel, the sink is the flood and other elements of the Old Testament sprinkled in (frogs, gnats, etc.) before he delivers the New Testament. I think it’s safe to assume the baby is Jesus, but it wasn’t discussed. Most of the rest is human civilization destroying the planet while losing all perspective about God and religion. If I knew the New Testament better, I’m sure I’d pick up other elements of it. Still not entirely sure what the gem is. Life itself I think. Wish someone had asked that question. I think another comment had it right when they said the house is the heart and body of our planet which is also Mother Earth’s. (It’s only a coincidence that fossil fuel destroys the house, but now that an audience member brought it up, Darren and the audience agreed to go with that.) Now that I know more, I really need to go back and watch it again. Need a little time first. It’s an intense experience.

  9. Dan says:

    Take out the j law sex scene and nobody goes to this movie.

  10. Bill B. says:

    Awful lot of words for something that few will even remember in a couple of months. Sounds pretty bad and it’s just possible on top of its other problems that the public has gotten over the Lawrence phenomenon that was delightfully going on for a few years. Passengers was a silly disappointment, Joy was so-so despite a good performance & this is the biggest flop of her career. A good picture that is not part of a franchise would help her out a lot.

  11. Sam says:

    Dear variety and variety head of advertising………….
    Those videos you have placed about variety interviews that automatically start running when the article is opened …..
    That runs up time on cellphone monthly data limit.
    Please STOP running the variety video interviews on the ad sites, or stop them from running auto.
    Using up data. Get it. You’re using people’s data without their permission.
    Like stealing data. Get it.
    Stop running the auto play videos.
    You’re stealing data from your customers.
    You do not have their permission to run auto play videos.
    Even if it’s a variety interview
    Please stop running the auto play videos.
    You are stealing data from customers.

  12. jack says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a film being an allegory, it’s just that the filmmaker must have the skills to present it.

  13. Frederick Louis Richardson says:

    Some films are “review-proof”.

    If the subject matter is under debate, it certainly takes you out of the movie and into the classroom.

    On commenter wrote: ““mother!” is a uniquely artful and visionary experience because it’s no mere story, no mere head-scratcher, but a great big swirling ball of metaphor. It is — to use the buzzword of the moment — an allegory.”

    Film drama, through a lens darkly, deconstructs real life’s darkest taboos with “spare cinema”. In other words, “visual poetry” by the movie’s pacing, camera angles, score…and for a “work of art” commercial concerns should not enter into it. The Mis en scene is the poetry stylized to raise any number of emotions that fulfill expectations.

    If the director is going to indulge avant-garde cinema, then such a director needs, as a matter of course, to work with the rhythm and cadence in a shot-for-shot matrix, not unlike a music score; finding where the accent falls and where symbols arise (editing) and the lyricism expressed (only necessary dialogue…if any) and so on.

    To sublimate a motion picture with the film genre of “horror” is the burden of Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother”, an identity the distributors require to sell the flick, fool the public, and haul as much money (and hoped for controversy) as a modest motion picture is capable of doing.

    There more going on, here, under the surface–but that belongs in the classroom.

  14. Wow woww. It's an allegory?! My Saturday night is now complete! :) says:

    People don’t go to the movies to find source material for their term papers and indulge in allegory’s you idiotic executives who are destroying this one great industry!

    People watch movies for entertainment – for fun – in hopes of taking a break and escaping from things like school and jobs and whatever.

    And if you idiots who are so desperate to prove to the world that you are ‘intellectuals’ actually had a minimal amount of intellect, aside from the fact that you wouldn’t be so obsessed with what others think of your intelligence level, you would be able to understand what the purpose of the entertainment business that you work in…

    …. Which, in turn, would finally lead to the end of this seemingly endless mass production of super crappy (like beyond horrible!!!) movies that make you feel like you actually rather just do homework!

    O_O

    • Naruto says:

      You really don’t enjoy the entire tradition of art in Western civilization, do you? Not a fan of the theater, or literature, or art museums, or music that isn’t “both types, country and western”. I wish that the love for seeing the world in a new way, and seeking out and challenging yourself to experience new creations had been ingrained in you through the homework you apparently hate so much. I really do. There is more to life than super hero movies.

      It’s a big beautiful mystery out there, with a lot of people trying to figure it out in big beautiful ways. You rob yourself of that experience without intellectual curiosity. Art makes the world larger.

      To paraphrase a famous Japanese allegory, don’t be the frog in the well. There’s a whole ocean out there.

    • Kinoeye says:

      “People watch movies for entertainment – for fun.” Sure, some people do that. Some people also like to be provoked into viewing the world in another way. Some people DO like homework, and mental challenges, and therefore enjoy movies that aren’t just entertainment. Some people enjoy both, sometimes seeking out entertainment and sometimes seeking out intellectual stimulation.

      Please don’t speak for “people” when you are only speaking for yourself. If this seems like a movie that would be over your head, then don’t spend the dollar, no one is marching you into the theater — but don’t go on to presume that your personal tastes are the end-all, be-all of humanity.

    • Dreaded Parakeet says:

      An allegory? So what? Is it a good movie. Does it appeal to a wide audience. Those are the most important things to measure success. But let’s not give it a pass by adding attributes that may not exist. A talented AA winning actress is supposed to give a film a certain panache to help it along. But too many things are happening with this movie outside it’s realm and a separation cannot be made by the audience.

      Nerves are frayed regarding politics and divisiveness in this country and Ms. Lawrence did not not help this film along in terms of making it a commercial success. And it’s not her acting. People will not compartmentalize anymore and are less interested in moral lessons of truth and spirituality from Hollywood when they clearly portray you as the devil himself. Well, at least 50% of the country.

    • Effie Brink says:

      Um, 99.9 percent of Hollywood movies are mindless entertainment. Back off. Go watch another superhero movie or spy thriller. Some of us like more than that and we’re every bit as entitled to it as you are to your fun, empty popcorn.

  15. Ronaldo says:

    Mother! to Play full HD this link > 4kputlocker.pro

  16. Trish says:

    Terrible movie. Hated it

  17. “mother!” is a pretentious piece of trash,masquerading as some sort of muddled allegory/metaphor.It’s a punishing fever dream of a misogynistic hack.The director claims he was inspired to make this atrocity by the dismal state of the world.But,bad movies like this only make the world a worse ,more depressing ,place to live.The chief audience for this movie seems to be pseudo intellectuals,who can find deep meaning and symbols in a blank screen.Aronofsky has already apologized for inflicting this monstrosity on the world.I don’t know if he should be forgiven or not.I do know that people that try to foist off this piece of crap on audiences as art ,shouldn’t be.

  18. Robot says:

    This movie is 100% boring, pretentious, pure garbage. Wannabe-intellectuals will insist it’s just too deep for the plebs to understand. Jokes on them.

  19. If she would have called for an Uber about half-way through the movie, I would have liked it a lot better.

    • Frank says:

      Call for an uber and go watch how to be a Latin lover. Funny. Great actors and Scene of the echo park lake from a historic apt building.

  20. Dan Jones says:

    Why would you become a critic if you possess such bored disdain for people who find meaning in film? Your reviews in EW were always shallow garbage. Haven’t changed, I see.

    By the way, I wasn’t all positive on this film and found it very upsetting to watch. But it’s hardly oblique or inscrutable. Or at least, it shouldn’t be to any critic who has ever been in the same room as a Bible, lived in Western culture, and is willing to pay attention.

  21. beanchelsea says:

    That review was more confusing than anything the movie could possibly have to offer. “Yet the hell in “mother!” mostly consists of other people, like Pfeiffer’s overly noodgy and blaring drunk, acting in very broad ways that other people don’t tend to act.” What the hell does that even mean? I’m also not sure the reviewer has a clear idea of what an allegory is.

  22. lemonsour says:

    So basically you are criticizing people for discussing the film?

  23. Mathias says:

    A good film. SPOILER ALERT:

    It’s about the concept of being a mother. The house signifies her (body and mind). Becoming a mother destabilizes both. It includes intrusive experiences, confusion and inner battles. Being a mother is not easy, and eventually you lose your child to the world. But in the end, it’s mothers who brings life into an otherwise “dead” world. The are what keeps the circle of life. The film is a nice tribute to motherhood, because it acknowledges its challenges.

    • Jacen says:

      All that and more. I need to see the film again, but I wonder if it’s possible to interpret the film as reflective of a woman’s emotional/physical states during the many weeks of pregnancy. True, she isn’t pregnant until the final act, but the early portions of the film, from what I recall, suggested a feeling of morning sickness, and the end of the film is like those last stages when hormones go awry (cue Seth Rogan screaming “F— you, hormones!”). Plus, the entire thing is cyclical.

    • Jillian says:

      Let’s hate women. I wonder who helps them become mothers.

  24. scottloveserica says:

    Christ even this comment section is polarized!

  25. R D Smith says:

    “But just because a movie has a meaning doesn’t make it an allegory. And just because a movie is an allegory doesn’t make it a good movie.” To those who posit that it’s an allegory regarding (Christian) faith and doctrine, Christian doctrine is certainly robust enough to tolerate that – it has for centuries and it continues to prevail. At least make a good film while you’re at it.

    • R D Smith says:

      We have a saying back in Oklahoma . . . “I’ve seen better film on a farm pond.”

    • Kinoeye says:

      But it was a good film. It was full of unease and tension, and it goes totally bonkers as it descends into some surreal madness worthy of Hieronymus Bosch. I think it’s one of the most interesting films made in the last twenty years, and I wish we could get more films that have this level of risk. On top of that, it offers some weighty things to think about, and frames it within a modern context. I think anyone could understand the anxiety of strangers invading your home and disrespecting you, and I think it does a fine job of illustrating the Old Testament — is it NOT full of stories about God asking people to behave and play nice, and yet they constantly decide to be jerks? I think the best question isn’t why God doesn’t intervene in our suffering, but why does he care at all when we keep acting the way we act? Sometimes mother nature just has to burn the house down and start from scratch.

  26. MovieBabble says:

    Totally in agreement here. Just because a movie has something to say and deals a lot in metaphor and allegory doesn’t mean it’s a good film. In my opinion, mother! felt like a vomit of ideas that directly conflict with each other and don’t really add to a cohesive thought. I’m totally okay with movies that are completely metaphor. For instance, I really, really like Denis Villenueve’s Enemy which in no way feels pretentious or scatterbrained yet needs a lot of time to be deciphered. My hope is that whatever hate that Aronofsky had in him he finally got rid of with mother!

  27. Ann Greer says:

    didn’t like Black Swan, wasn’t going to see “Mother” because the poster is so bizarre, so thank you for writing this essay. You have confirmed my suspicions.

  28. A very black comedy, quite literally hysterical, from the Greek hysterikos: “of the womb, suffering in the womb”…

  29. Kinoeye says:

    I don’t understand what is so hard for people to understand about this movie. Lawrence is the symbolic Mother Earth/Fertility icon/Mary and Bardem is God. Mother is happy to live alone with Him in the paradise she is creating, and she can’t understand why it is so important to Him to create (Especially when his creation proves unable to follow simple directions, fight and kill each other, and basically show no respect at all to the true owners of the house). Why does he desire the praise of these people when all they do is screw stuff up and act like jerks? It’s a good question.

    This is a brilliant movie with a lot of uncomfortable truths.

    • Tony says:

      This is probably the best and clearest elucidation of the movie I’ve read thus far.

      I consider myself fairly intelligent, and thus could discern the religious parallels and undertones, but found myself struggling to specifically apply them to everything I was actually seeing on the screen. Thinking about the movie in the context you’ve provided, clarifies, and makes all the pieces “fit”.

      Thank you.

  30. Sylvia says:

    Aronofsky proves once again that Hollywood is full of self-absorbed hacks and their sycophants. This movie is pure crap. How anyone can think this is great movie making should indicate they are incompetent critics and have no credibility.

  31. Fred says:

    Talk about pure Hollywood crap, this is now the standard bearer of sadistic trash. Nothing like burning a new born baby alive, then ripping the body to shreds! Where are the 3-D glasses to increase the box office? Aronofsky should be put into an asylum. Please let this be the end of his horrid career.

    • Kinoeye says:

      Yeah. It’s kind of like that whole “eating the body and drinking the blood” of a certain someone that 2 billion people gather to do every Sunday. Remember, the transubstantiation doctrine of the Catholic church says that the bread and wine transform into the “literal” body and blood. True or not, that is what people are supposed to believe they are doing every Sunday.

      And Hollywood is sadistic?

      • Kinoeye says:

        Jillian — Was founding a country on the backs of slaves for 100 years part of the repudiation of evil that you speak of? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on that point. (Plus, I hope I know at least some things about Christians, as I am one).

      • Kinoeye says:

        Anon — Also, if you think that Catholicism is all just Easter Bunnies, I suggest you take a trip to Rome, as I did last year. Examine the mummified bodies of monks that the Capuchins felt the need to dress up and pose in crypts, the thousands of bones that they turn into wall decorations; check out the many churches which have the bodies of saints under glass, emphasizing throats slit or hearts removed; look at some of the murals (in churches!) that depict, in the most gruesome manner you can imagine, beheadings and bowels being removed…

        The point is that there is as much Blood and Guts to be found in The Bible and religious art as there is in this film. And this isn’t a movie that is “going after” religion — it’s simply illustrating it in the same bloody terms that you will find in the Bible.

      • Kinoeye says:

        Anon — I’m a Catholic, and I’ve read more than just the Bible. I’m also not afraid to confront the questions that all that reading raises. In fact, the Bible doesn’t exactly portray mankind as particularly wise or good, so there is nothing wrong with questioning if the institutions we’ve built are accurate representations of what a Divine Creator would want from us.

      • anon says:

        Um really, Kinoeye? Are you that obsessed with trashin Christianity and disproving it that you are actually willing to trash it as something even worse than what was depicted in that super gross movie? I mean, have you ever even read the Bible – or the Quran, or Torah which is actually the Old Testament of the Bible – which are really beautiful books which were simply meant to help remind people (via: Abrahams various descendants) about the importance of upholding good values?

        But while I personally think the whole bread & wine thing, and the whole Jesus as the son of God thing, is a mistake as there is literally nothing in the Bible that claims that people should believe such a thing ( Jesus actually clearly states, in his Sermon on the Mount, to never associate anyone/thing to God)… When all the sweet and lovely Catholics of the world do that “eating the body and drinking the blood” thing, they are not doing it in some sort of hateful/maliciously-intented//horror-movie/literal/evil way”! In any way. So please don’t twist it into something it’s absolutely not so you feel better about your personal stance on religions – when, whatever your stance, it’s between you and God and you obviously have the God-given right to not believe. I mean, I don’t get what’s with people like you who, while wanting everybody to respect your belief (or lack of belief), are obsessed with taking every every chance you get to say such absurd and rude things about the religions of others? I mean, is the eating of bread & wine every Sunday by Catholics psychically harming you in someway? Because, if not, how about having a little respect for others!

        That said, Fred is right. And, coming from someone who is a liberal myself, I find it so ironic how it’s the people who are obsessed with giving anti-gun speeches (and losing their minds over Trump, who I think is an idiot’s, locker room talk) who put the most horrid/disgusting/unimaginable violence in movies and ask actors to sexually do the most demeaning/exploitative things ‘in the name of art’ which nobody should ever be asked to do! I do think Darren is very talented though and do not think he has had a ‘horrid’ career lol. With the exception of the unnecessary sex scene, I really thought Black Swan was a great movie. But this movie really was literally beyond disgusting and the definition of “sadistic trash.” It contributes actually nothing in the world. And I wish I had never seen it. And for actually wanting to make something like this when he could’ve made practically anything using his endless amounts of free speech, I do hope Darren does try go to get some mental help… Because, yeah… Very weird…

      • Jillian says:

        You know nothing about christians.
        The faith was the reason America was founded. To escape evil minded people and evil religions and cultures….like yourself.

      • Fyva Prold says:

        … and doing it in front of that certain someone depicted tortured to death. Not quite PG13.

  32. Anna says:

    He woke up one morning and this film poured out of him like a bout of diarrhea.
    Darren Aronofsky is so dead.

  33. Bobby says:

    I watched this movie and my immediate reaction was that it was clearly autobiographical. If it’s an allegory for anything it’s the creative process itself. From end to agonizing end. The religious imagery serves a purpose I’m sure but to me I saw a story about a narcissistic artist, how he views his muse, the agony and anxiety of creating, how painful it can be on the psyche “birthing” each new project, and then all the machinations of Hollywood, of stardom, ripping a relationship apart; burning it all down until a new muse presents itself and the process starts all over again. Love it or hate it – it definitely elicits emotion – and for my money it was way scarier and unsettling than a movie like IT, which is getting more praise than it deserves.

  34. Lisa says:

    Forcing me into the perspective of mother nature is the “enlightenment” I walked away with. A story of the world but told through images that are familiar to me, ones that I understand more than grandiose biblical stories.

  35. Buttons says:

    I will tell you what it is, it is a anti-Christian bomb. It’s hatred and bigotry towards people of faith have me quite happy that it is a supreme failure for all involved.

    • Kinoeye says:

      It’s not anti-anything. But it does raise some important theological questions that few bother to think about these days. Sorry if that is uncomfortable for you, but art has always been a place for people to wrestle with humanity’s relationship to the divine and question our real place in the universe. If God gave humanity reason, then it’s no sin for humanity to use it.

      • Steve says:

        Great post. These aren’t trivial anti-Christian talking points (“Invisible Sky Daddy”), but rather fundamental questions that people have always asked and will always ask.

    • I_just_missed_your_heart says:

      And here you are, a supposed person of faith, revelling in another’s failure and filled with anger and hatred. There’s those good Christain values. Bravo.

  36. James says:

    A “head tripping” allegory maybe? It can be both and it sounds it was written by someone on acid and they must have been tripping.

  37. Steve says:

    Whenever a movie as polarizing and controversial as mother! comes along, we see think pieces like this. A critic tries to explain why other people react to the movie differently than s/he did. Unfortunately, when you base a piece on your interpretation of what others think, you run the risk of assuming too much, being defensive, and actually dressing down the people you disagree with. Even first-rate critics like Gleiberman do that, and I think he does it here.

    I think that mother! Is a very good movie, like about B+/A-. I found it enthralling to watch and interesting to think about later. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece or a fraud. I realize that it’s very divisive, and I don’t think any less of anyone who dislikes or hates it. It’s certainly not for everyone.

    I offer this as a personal response to this movie, entirely subjective, and maybe a way of thinking that Gleiberman didn’t realize is out there.

  38. Dan says:

    Aronofsky adds his porn shots in his movies and try’s to call it art,
    So men can watch it in a theatre and not have to hide behind computer porn.

  39. Kevin Tran says:

    Both Mother! and Glass Castle (came out last month) are very difficult to watch in more ways than one.

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