Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
Christian LOVE—learn more about it
devotion and self-sacrifice
Javier Bardem represents a cruel but creative god in this atheist horror film. He is referred to as “Him.”
If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, WOULD HE REALLY CREATE A WORLD LIKE THIS? —filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty Answer
Is God CRUEL? Answer
About Feminism and the Bible
What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer
Jennifer Lawrence … Mother
Javier Bardem … Him
Ed Harris … Man
Michelle Pfeiffer … Woman
Domhnall Gleeson … Oldest Son
Brian Gleeson … Younger Brother
Jovan Adepo … Cupbearer
Amanda Chiu … Damsel
Patricia Summersett … Consoler
Eric Davis … Bumbler
See all »
|Director:||Darren Aronofsky (see info below)|
Paramount Pictures—who also brought us “Noah” (2014)
a bizarre, very angry anti-God, EcoFeminist message presented in the form of pseudo-biblical allegory and an extremely violent home invasion horror film
Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” is an almost impossible movie to review. It is a film that a vast majority of people who innocently wander in because they saw Jennifer Lawrence on the poster will leave in a daze—like car accident survivors—unsure of what they just experienced.
Two separate groups of people left the movie halfway through, and 3 people next to me who stuck it out till the bitter end left the theater shaking their heads at the screen—and very vocally wondering what in the world they had just watched. It is a film that even Aronofsky admirers will need a time to ponder as the credits roll, and, like car accident witnesses, will likely each come away seeing something from a slightly (or completely) different perspective.
And, for Christian audiences? Well, I hate to say it, but Christian viewers are the car accident fatalities in this scenario. Unless you are an avid Aronofsky fan, unless you understand that the word “dark” doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of his movies, and unless you absolutely know what you are getting into (and already know the director’s thoughts on God), I cannot recommend this movie to Christian audiences.
I purposely avoided reading anything about “Mother!” beforehand, wanting to go into the film with a completely open mind. His films are generally rather polarizing, and almost always a bit of a mind-trip (“The Wrestler” the lone exception currently coming to mind), and knowing too much about it ahead of time would have ruined the experience for me.
While I have admired, and appreciated, the avant-garde approach his movies take, I’m not a fan. It would be very difficult to say, “I really love ‘Requiem for a Dream’,” or “Man, ‘Black Swan’ is one of my favorite movies.” I’ve seen his movies, been fascinated by his approach to storytelling, taken a trepidatious look into his mind, grown a little queasy once or twice, and have always left the theater thinking, “Well, I’ve not seen that before.” While there is something to be said for that. I also almost always find myself saying, “I don’t think I’ll need to see that again.” To all of the above, “Mother!” is no exception.
“Mother!” features Jennifer Lawrence (as Mother) and Javier Bardem (as Him) who play a couple living an undisturbed life in the middle of nowhere in Bardem’s longtime home, which had once been severely damaged in a fire. Lawrence has restored the home to its former glory, wanting to create a paradise of sorts for her husband, who is a formerly successful writer, now struggling with major writer’s block.
Their peaceful existence is disturbed by the arrival of a stranger (Ed Harris) who mistakes the house for a bed and breakfast. Bardem, ever welcoming to strangers, lets the man in, and invites him to spend the night—much to mother’s dismay.
The next day there is another knock on the door, signaling the unexpected arrival of the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer, in a tremendous supporting performance). The woman makes herself much more at home than her husband did, and immediately begins to question the dynamic between Lawrence and Bardem, and offers many unwanted suggestions for improving their relationship—much to Lawrence’s dismay.
Suffice it to say, just about everything that happens in this film falls under the heading: “much to Lawrence’s dismay,” mostly because every action Bardem takes (or anyone else, for that matter) is taken without the consent, or consideration, of Lawrence.
House rules are then set in place for the man and woman, certain rules are broken by the house guests, more guests begin to show up, and then things start to get more stressful, and very crazy. Anything shared beyond this would divulge major spoilers.
It’s hard to describe the objectionable content of this movie without giving away spoilers, but I will do my best.
The movie is rated R for “strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity, and language.”
LANGUAGE—Foul language is heavy, but on the lower end of the spectrum for an R-rated movie. I heard: • “You can’t even f*** me” • “It’s time to get the f*** out of my house” • “You’re an arrogant c*nt” • “b*tch” • “whore” • “d*mn” • s-word
SEX/NUDITY—A couple is shown having clothed-sex (the woman is in her underwear), and another couple begin to have intense, clothed sex on the stairwell. The audience sees them wake up the next morning with sheets over them, but it is clear they are naked. We know this because the man gets up and runs to a desk, and his naked backside is shown. Side view of a nude man. Breasts are visible through a very transparent nightgown that a character walks around in a few times, and we see bare breasts briefly when a female character is dragged across the floor and people grab at her clothing while beating her. Which leads us to the “disturbing violent content.” There are many sexual comments and situations.
VIOLENCE—Remember, this is the Motion Picture Association of America that is describing the violence as “disturbing” not just “Jonathan the Christian movie reviewer.” I completely agree with the MPAA’s assessment.
Honestly, “Mother!” contains horror-level violence (often startling), especially near the end. Plenty of people are shown being murdered—some bludgeoned, some shot execution style, some blown up like in war-movies. There is attempted sexual violence. Someone very young is shown having their neck snapped. A human heart is extracted from a body and squished. We see very disturbing (for more than one reason) cannibalism. There’s more, but I’m getting queasy again just thinking about it. The violence alone should keep viewers away, be they Christian or not.
But what about the spiritual content? This movie is about a lot of things, but at its core, it seems to be most directly about God. Once again, divulging too much will give away major parts of this movie, and I try my best not to do that. But, as I said earlier, if you are familiar with Aronofsky and his enraged Atheism, then you have a pretty good idea what’s coming. Anyone who saw “Noah” will remember that its portrayal of God was as a heartless, power-hungry egomaniac who demands unquestioned obedience or death.
Now, say what you will about artistic interpretation; I didn’t go into a Bible story directed by the man who gave us “Black Swan” expecting Biblical accuracy, or a retelling that matched my worldview. But, with “Mother!”, Aronofsky pushes the envelope even further, and it’s not subtle. It’s raging anger.
Aronofsky is a self-proclaimed atheist, and his utter disdain of the biblical God and all organized religion (especially Catholicism) is on full display here. He is telling the audience that belief in God, and the presence of religion in the world, has not only done great harm to Mother Nature, but also to women.
Now, because of sin and fallen-man’s wrong interpretations of Scripture and other religious teachings, there have been, and continue to be, instances where women and the environment are needlessly hurt. 2008’s powerful film “The Stoning of Soraya M.” shows how false religion (Iranian Islam) is used as justification for sinful men who simply want to exert blind authority over women. A healthy, thoughtful conversation can—and should be—had about that topic. This movie is not that.
This movie is well-crafted; Aronofsky is a talented director. This movie starts out pretty languidly, with something slightly-not-right lurking under the surface. As the movie propels forward, the sense of dread increases.
This is a stressful movie. At least, it was for me. I startled myself a few times by laughing at something so absurd that alleviates the tension ever so briefly. The performances are all very good, as you’d expect from a cast as talented as this. But, as with most of Aronofsky’s other films, although I can appreciate the talent involved and the technical quality, I did not like the movie. I don’t think this movie was ever intended to be “liked.”
Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what this movie is, or wants to be; It’s about so many different things. It’s about creation, be it the maddening creative process or The Creation itself. It’s about planet Earth. It’s about border security. It’s about religious authoritarianism. Jennifer Lawrence’s character represents Mother Nature or Gaia, the Virgin Mary, and Lady Liberty—all rolled into one.
Aronofsky fans will no doubt view this film, and I’m curious to hear their thoughts. If you’ve never seen an Aronofsky film before, I certainly wouldn’t start with this one. While I can’t make the final decision for you, I sincerely pray you will use Godly discernment in deciding whether to dismiss my concerns and view this movie.
Editor’s Note: Christian Spotlight strongly recommends that Christians do NOT support this film (brought to the world by Paramount Pictures) or its director. He has clearly chosen to be an influential enemy of both Christianity and God—who he denies and caricatures.
THE FEMINIST INSPIRATION FOR “MOTHER”—Aronofsky, who both wrote and directed this film, says that an important inspiration was the famously provocative cornerstone of Feminist literature—an emotional Leftist attack on the Bible (among other things)—called Woman and Nature: the Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin—a radical Feminist philosopher, essayist and playwright living in Berkeley, California, who grew up near Hollywood, and wanted to be a filmmaker.
Instead, she became an EcoFeminist author (that is, strongly linking Feminism with Earth ecology), preaching that men and their dominating capitalistic societies are destroying the world and that Christianity is the enabler of oppression of women—and animals and plants. Her book angrily charges that “patriarchal Western philosophy and religion have used language and science to bolster their power over… women.” Witch hunts, strip mining, Freudian psychology, colonialism, and “the suppression of sexuality” are used to decry male domination and environmental abuse. In recent years, proponents are calling their movement “Global Feminist Environmental Justice” or “Queer Ecologies”—happily including all in the LGQT movement supposedly “oppressed” by Christians.
➤ Is the FEMINIST MOVEMENT the right answer to the mistreatment that sadly some women endure in this sinful world? Answer
Alissa Wilkinson of the secular Vox magazine, points out that “Mother!”…
“…retwists the Christian version of the world’s history, suggesting that it’s always been told from the point of view of God’s dominant masculine nature—and without much thought to what the feminine side might think. …The woman [Lawrence] is rendered in this film with imagery that evokes both Mary and Gaia, the Greek ancestral mother of life, but as not merely a willing vessel but a very put-upon woman who’s reaching her absolute breaking point.
There are plenty of shades of gnosticism, beings that seem greater and lesser, physical ascents and descents in the house that mirror heaven and hell, bleeding floors, shattering glass, even a frog (the Egyptian goddess of fertility, Heqet, was rendered as a frog).
…Aronofsky makes one more leap: God’s cruelty—and his genius—is for his masculine nature to keep wiping things out and starting over [re-Creation myth], sucking every ounce of life and energy and creative force from the woman, who just gives and gives and gives. …”
Are you an ENABLER? Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are in effect casting a vote telling Hollywood, “I’ll pay for that. That’s what I want.” What enables Hollywood Liberals to continually attack the Bible in movies and present immoral and abhorent programming? Money. Is some of it yours? Christian, are YOU part of the problem? Answer
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.