Been reading reviews of Darren Aronofsky's allegorical film mother!
, including finally the director's explanation of his intent behind it. Aronofsky - "Requiem for a A Dream, Black Swan, Pi" is sort of similar to David Lynch in that he's an acquired taste. People either like his movies or really hate them. I actually always found them to be rather interesting, nightmarish, but interesting. Like Lynch, Aronofsky delves into a sort of psychological/allegorical sense of horror or notion of it.
Cinemascore and the mainstream critics, such as Owen Glieberman with Entertainment Weekly despised the film. Cinemascore gave it an F, but Cinemascore also gives things like Batman vs. Superman high scores...so, you can't really go by them. And film like all art or so I'm finding is in the eye of the beholder. For example? Some people love the Kevin Costner film Wyatt Earp, others despise it. I've had friends rank on me for loving Pretty Woman and LadyHawk. We are a culture that has a tendency, like it or not, to foist our opinions onto others as if they are gospel. Which may be why we're in the culture wars?
On one site, people were ranking on the actress Jennifer Lawrence, stating she was a horrible actress in everything but one movie -- I'm guessing Winter's Bone. (Having seen her in just about everything but Passengers, which I skipped, I strongly disagree and wonder what drugs they've been imbibing or what they consider good acting? See, there I go flinging my opinion at you.) While one respondent to the site stated that the film had made them scream laugh with absolute delight...and they felt it was a marvel to behold. What turned everyone else off turned on this guy, for some reason.
And well here's
the most recent, and rather fascinating review I read about the film
his film is also not for everyone.
As I said, it’s not a horror film, but horrific things happen, which are harrowing to watch. There are two scenes in particular toward the end that are immensely disturbing. If you don’t do well with violence (specifically against a woman, or against children), this is not the movie for you, and you should know that.
However, you should also know that the violence I’m talking about very much has a purpose that is integral to the film, especially if looked at through a particular lens. If you can stomach filmed violence at all, so long as it isn’t oppressive in nature (ie: against marginalized people), gritting your teeth through it might be worth it to you for the greater overall experience with the story.
That said, it’s also not for people that don’t want to have any kind of thinky-thoughts when they go to movies. This film isn’t escapism. There’s nothing wrong with escapism; I’m a huge fan of escapism, but I don’t believe that every film has to be, or should be, escapist. While very often, something being “confusing” is indicative of faulty storytelling, it’s equally the case that sometimes people don’t want to have to think that hard when watching something, and get angry when they’re required to look past a surface and don’t know what they’re looking for.
Then they provide a link to Aronfsky's explanation of the film, which wasn't exactly what they saw in it. But close.
As for the writing, that’s where I found it less successful. I saw mother! before reading Aronofsky’s explanation of what it’s about, and came up with what felt like an air-tight explanation for the goings-on in the film … that was not what Aronofsky set out to convey. While the film certainly can be read his way, there are a couple of things that muddy the water just enough to seem like failures in execution.
is what Aronfsky explained. Which I found rather interesting. The whole film is an allergorical essay on our relationship with Mother Earth. Jennifer Lawrence's character sort of represents mother earth and is relentlessly tortured throughout the film in her octagonal house that she lovingly built.
Aronofsky considers Mother!’s final 25-minute sequence—a deeply disturbing crescendo of violence—“one of my best accomplishments, just because it’s a nightmare. It just builds and builds on top of documenting the horrors of our world, and throws a pregnant woman into it.”
Lawrence herself said that after seeing the images unspool on the big screen at the Venice Film Festival, she was “shaking” and wondered whether they had “gone too far.” Though Lawrence has said she is proud of the film, and hopes that it will inspire audiences to exhibit more empathy, Lawrence also told Toronto International Film Festival moviegoers, “I don’t know that I would make a film that made me feel that way again.”
As for Aronofsky, he clarified: “I think it’s important for people to recognize I am not condoning the violence in the movie. Some people might think, ‘Hey, it’s messed up.’ But we wanted to show the story of the world and how it feels to be her. And what we as a species do to her . . . We also wanted to make something that would floor people.”
Aronofsky said that he edited out a few scenes that “went a little too far,” but did not make any major changes in post-production. Because the film is such a carefully engineered climactic build, taking out one on-screen atrocity would have been like upsetting a game of Jenga.
Some critics have called the final sequence—particularly what is done to Lawrence—misogynistic. Entertainment Weekly even titled its review “Jennifer Lawrence Gets Put Through the Torture-Porn Wringer.”
But Aronofsky has a response for those people: “They are missing the whole point. It’s misogyny if it says that this is good . . . I think [any spit-take revulsion is] just like an initial reaction to being punched. We are telling the story of Mother Nature turning into a female energy, and we defile the earth. We call her dirt. We don’t clean up after our mess. We drill in her. We cut down her forests. We take without giving back. That’s what the movie is.”
The reason I felt the need to post about this...is well it touches upon various things that I have been discussing lately online, often with a great deal of aggravation as if we are circling around the elephant in the room, but from another angle.
I think art, regardless of how well it is done or how well we like it, is a reflection of our society and world. Sort of the shadow we cast in the mirror. I don't like mirrors. Never have. They unnerve me. In part because the reflection is never the same, it always shifts and changes depending on the light and the angle of the cast. Similar to photographs, which are similar to mirrors. They capture an image inside them via light. But unlike mirrors hold on to it. Art, painting, television, film acts like a mirror -- it takes on and often distorts the images thrown at it, depicting what lies beneath the surface.
Oscar Wilde's brilliant book, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, is a psychological horror tale about a man who stays beautiful while his portrait ages and becomes ugly, taking on all the ravages in his soul, depicting the true man beneath the surface. Instead of being a beautiful portrait, it's actually
ugly and gross and horrifying. Aronsfsky's films like the portrait of Dorian Gray, show us the bits we don't want to see.
Mirrors also lie to us, they show us what we wish to see. Just as art can lie and show false truths.
The artist's intent may not come off as intended, it may get lost in translation or be misinterpreted by the viewer. Many viewers and critics saw "mother!" as either torture porn or misogyny. And I read similar reactions to Black Swan.
While the artist intended an allegorical tale of what we're doing to mother earth. The gut-wrenching pain of it. Yet, oblivious to it, blind. Until faced with the consequences.
I find the interactions between the audience with the art and the artist with the audience and work to be fascinating. I remember my brother, a conceptual artist, telling me once that all art regardless of the medium was interactive, or risked being self-indulgent. That people interact with the art, and the art is representative of our culture, ourselves and society at large. If we hate a work of art, we should dig deeper and ask what it is reflecting of our society...and what is our relationship to that.
I haven't seen the movie "mother!" and from what I've just read about it? I don't think I'll be able to watch it. Not a huge fan of allegory, and graphic torture isn't something I can watch easily. But, knowing and overall being fascinated by Aronfsky's work...I'm admittedly curious and might rent it on On Demand or Netflix.