Listen, I get it. Adam and Eve, the “breaking” of the apple, Cain and Abel, the writing of the Bible, the body and the blood, all of that. I’m watching this six years after its release, so I know how divisive it is. Controversial cinema like this is usually my jam.
mother!, however, was most definitely not one of those movies. Nearly everything about it was well done, from the acting performances and writing to the set design and effects. Yet, the execution and amplitude of the concepts were overwhelming and chaotic in a genuinely uncomfortable way. I enjoy taking giant leaps outside my comfort zone, but certain events in this film made me feel emotionally uneasy and wanted it to finish.
I respect the direction this film was going for, as well as the effort involved from all of the cast and crew. Still, the entire screenplay felt hastily written, as if two-thirds of the way through the film, Aronofsky realized he was going over his allotted word count. You know when you’re writing something on a piece of paper, then halfway through, you notice that you don’t have enough space, and you begin scrunching up letters to ensure it all fits? That’s what the pacing of the third act felt like.
Aside from all that, one scene in particular left me almost queasy. When the husband steals the baby and passes him to the sea of psychotic fans, and his neck breaks, I felt a nearly physical reaction. I am a relatively new father with a 13-month-old son, and for the longest time in his infancy, hurting his neck was my deepest and most catastrophic fear. While fake, seeing that happen on screen made me squirm like nothing else. Something about being a dad made this scene hit me on a level too real, though I acknowledge it was crucial to the storyline.
With all that said, mother! was a fascinating depiction of the Bible in a way I couldn’t have fathomed, but not one I would view again or urge others to watch.