mother! (2017) – Take 2

The first and last line of mother! is “Baby?” Darren Aronofsky is a sick son of a bitch.

For real though, I have not stopped thinking about this movie since seeing it last Friday, so I had to go back for round two. A few things sat a bit awkwardly this time. Like how Aronofsky seems to be making it clear this isn’t taking place in any sense of “proper” reality and yet he still goes to great lengths to keep things grounded in the house/relationship milieu. If you’re going so hard on the metaphor, why the presence of phones? Or like, pots and pans? A washing machine? Is God/Him building this domestic illusion for everyone else to play in, or is it just Aronofsky’s narrative foundation stretched to where the holes are visible? Basically anything that doesn’t have some kind of loaded symbolic meaning feels a bit redundant in that sense. It doesn’t feel entirely thought through and fireproof as a framework. It’s a bit silly.

But all that stuff becomes irrelevant in film’s last hour where the sick thrill of being thrust into such a swirling crescendo of hysteria and lunacy takes prominence over any conceptual nitpicking. It’s like a fucking bungee jump. You just drop and drop and then BOOM you’re jolted in mid-air, left stunned and swaying (the structure perfectly mirrors that exclamation mark in the title in that sense, a deep dive followed by a punch). The film’s last thirty minutes are traumatic in a way I’ve never really experienced before. From the endless invasion that turns into an apocalyptic war-zone to the baby and the beating, the fire and the burnt body, then the ripping out of the heart. Can you believe that after the baby has been eaten and Lawrence has been savaged, Aronofsky even finds room to have her trip down the fucking stairs as she races to the basement? Christ almighty. It just keeps going. It made me feel sick to my stomach. It left me breathless, wordless. A seriously punishing, visceral feat of filmmaking and cruelty that is audacious and committed on a level I’ve rarely encountered before. And I say this as a pretty seasoned movie vet (I survived three August Underground movies). This thing fucked me up good. Twice! I’m playing the long game with this one. Gonna be an all timer for sure.

Also one thing I am obsessed with: What is with that metallic bell (??) sound effect that keeps re-ocurring throughout at key points, especially in Bardem’s office? Is it another Biblical allusion lost on me? I kept trying to figure out if it re-occurs anywhere else. It kind of sounds like the flick of a zippo lighter? But it isn’t quite that. It seems like it should be something hella specific and obvious but I’m at a total loss and dumb. HELP!

Watched at the cinema

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