‘Mother!’ is a chore to endure

Written By Michael Richter, A&E Editor

Upon completing a single viewing of “Mother!,” I felt as though I had ran a mental marathon. This movie repeatedly warns viewers to the point of nauseam about the downfall of fame. After leaving the theatre, I was shocked to learn via IMDb that it clocks in at 121 minutes — it seemed like I was in the theatre for at least three hours. The film is long, bizarre, tedious and bereft of anything interesting to say, even though it wholeheartedly believes it is preaching an important allegory.

There’s a lot of fat to the movie’s story. The film, which is written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, possesses two distinctive parts, which seemingly connect. However, they could stand alone as two different movies, which is one reason why “Mother!” is overly long. The movie follows an unnamed married couple played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. In the credits, Lawrence’s character is listed as Mother, while Bardem’s character is Him. They reside in a big house in a rural area. Lawrence’s character repaired the old home and hopes to raise a family in it, while Bardem’s character is a famous poet who is struggling to conjure up a new literary work.

When the Man (Ed Harris) and Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) show up at Him and Mother’s doorstep, chaos ensues. The first half of the film plays out like an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” directed by Chan-wook Park. The man is an ardent fan of the poet, and he asks if he could spend the night at the couple’s home. Him agrees to let him stay, but Mother does not want a stranger in her home overnight. During the next day, the Man’s wife and two sons show up at the house, and a family quarrel breaks out. Him welcomes the pandemonium, as it helps him create a new poem.

In the second half of the film, a nine months pregnant Mother is competing for her husband’s attention and affection over a massive amount of his fans. And the poet revels in it. He loves the conflict it brings to his life, as it fuels his creative juices. This second part is the strongest point of the movie. However, it renders the first part of the movie mostly pointless. If most of the first half was cut, there is a chance this would be a good 90-minute movie.

“Mother!” concerns itself heavily with how one’s fame can ruin other people’s lives. Nonetheless, it does not possess particularly interesting commentary about it. Yes, I know that famous creative types are known to be self-indulgent jerks. And I know that those same people tend to care more about their work than loved ones. This idea has been explored in film for decades.

Moreover, Lawrence’s performance is the best aspect of the movie. In her young career, the 27-year-old actress already has a fair amount of noteworthy performances, and “Mother!” may actually be her best yet. Lawrence’s acting kept me interested in the film — it added much needed emotional weight. Lawrence’s screams and outbursts from this film are burned into my brain. This movie demonstrates why she is one of the best in the business.
As the end credits rolled for “Mother!,” I let out a sigh of relief. I had endured one of the most vexatious films in recent memory. I rarely deem seeing movies as a chore, but Aronofsky’s latest feature surely felt like menial labor.

Rating: 4/10