mother! (2017)

I hated Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, loved Black Swan, and didn’t know what to feel for Requiem for a Dream. Likewise, I don’t really know what to feel for mother!. But I will say, that each an every one of his films have left me emotionally and psychologically affected every single time. Despite what I felt (or lack of what I felt) after watching Requiem for a Dream, to this day, I still can’t shake the images I saw and the experiences I went through together with the characters of that film. And again, likewise, I know it would be the same for this film.

All I want them to do is to either cheer or boo. If they do nothing, I lose.

Boy was I glad I went to watch this film alone. My friends would have unfriended me if I had put them through that. Aronofsky’s always making such controversial films, and I’m not sure if Singaporean hearts are ready for this one. We’ll see how this performs in our box office. Reviewers online are constantly saying that people are gonna either love or hate it, but I think that most of Singapore is gonna just purely hate this movie.

I’m telling you, this movie is freaking insane! I was so overwhelmed with all sorts of negative emotions, the only positive emotion I had was awe for Jennifer Lawrence’s ability to take all this shit going on. I thought Requiem for a Dream was disturbing, but this really was something else altogether, something I’ve never seen before, EVER. It pushed my limits to new boundaries, almost as if Aronofsky himself was screaming at me to get a reaction. I mean, looking at the poster I knew I was in for some weird shit but I wasn’t expecting them to take it this far.

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Okay, I will make it clear, again, that I neither love nor hate this movie, but I am definitely AFFECTED. Very, very affected in all states of my consciousness. And I have nothing but AWE for Darren Aronofsky’s genius and RESPECT the performances of all the characters in this movie. It’s not easy to put this together, and I appreciate that. This is art, and I absolutely admire this piece of work because I’d rather sit through this again than watch a shitty film with an overused premise, catered to please an idea of a “mass audience”. I love films that challenge the status quo, and this is one that certainly brings that phrase to an entirely different level. You HAVE to admire Aronofsky’s courage.

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I went into the cinema not knowing anything. I refused to watch the trailer, refused to read any reviews. On hindsight I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the film better if I knew about the metaphors prior to seeing the film.

I had absolutely NO IDEA this movie was not meant to be taken at face value, and it was only towards the end where I finally understood the metaphors Aronofsky had in mind when he made this film. The entire time I was wrecking my brains trying to figure out what this movie was all about!

Was it about the male ego? Was it about fame? Was it about society’s contempt towards housewives? Is the mother and the house actually one singular entity? Was that a reference to christianity towards the end?

Every time Jennifer Lawrence screamed I felt like I was screaming inside as well. What I did regret was reading the reviews immediately after the film instead of spending time to figure out what was my own take on the story. If I had only spent a few minutes thinking and making sense of what I had seen on my own, maybe I could have come up with a different theory, rather than relying on the thoughts of everyone else. But I do remember rather vividly, while walking out of the cinema, that I was reminded of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. In a way, this film felt (to me) like a retelling of that story in a drastically stretched and exaggerated manner within a totally different context.

But that being said, I was definitely shocked when I read what mother! was really about. Everything just clicked and made sense on hindsight – of course, only after I read the explanations online. While I could have gone into the cinema knowing the “answers”, and hence watch the movie in greater clarity, I realised that if I did just as so, then Aronofsky’s intention to make the viewer just as confused as “the mother”, would not have applied to me. While I could watch the film a second time to see it with this new “clarity”, I probably wouldn’t, because my head still hurts, and this is not a fun movie to watch. Same reason why I couldn’t and wouldn’t rewatch Requiem for a Dream or Black Swan. Maybe if I was paid to do so, then I might reconsider.

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Would I recommend this movie to anyone? Only to hardcore fans of Aronofsky’s work.

If you’re living in Singapore like I am and you’ve only got one chance to watch one film this weekend – be it with your friends or if you’re going on a date – I would recommend you to catch these “safer” choices instead (ranked in order): Bad Genius, Dunkirk, The Big Sick, The Beguiled. Aronofsky’s mother! is too big of a risk to recommend, but you can definitely consider it if you’re the kind who loves risks.