Psychological thriller “Mother!” disappoints

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New psychological thriller ‘mother!’ stars Jennifer Lawrence (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures).

Kaijie Zhang

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, “Mother!” is another one of the Aronofsky’s attempts at psychological thrillers, the previous being “Black Swan” (2010), which was widely praised as a masterpiece. However, “Mother!” is a huge let down.

The film tells the story of a nameless couple, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, who live in the woods in a cliché setting straight out of every scary movie ever. As Lawrence’s character gradually begins to hint at being pregnant, strangers start to show up at the couple’s door asking for an overnight shelter.

When the strangers eventually succeed in entering the home, they seem to have different intentions. With a selfish and somewhat famous poet for a husband, Lawrence’s character seems to be the only one that can combat the home invasion.

None of the main characters in the movie receive names, which makes it seem like Aronofsky is using symbolism to tell another story underneath the main storyline. This is where the movie gets confusing and loses its main focus.

Too many long shots at arbitrary actions by characters and different noises in the background are extremely irritating to the audience. If Aronofsky is trying to build tension, he has succeeded. However, he also misguided the audience into paying attention to countless insignificant details.

There are random cuts of the sound of a beating heart throughout the movie, which is later revealed as a crucial element in the development of the plot. Aronofsky’s attempts to foreshadow the plot, however, conflict with the main storyline and thus backfires.

While the movie seems to have good intentions by seemingly supporting 21st century feminism, it doesn’t succeed at it. The film at first portrays the mother figure as a strong, independent woman who is trying to multitask for her family, since her husband seems to be preoccupied with his career and fame.

By the end of the movie, the mother becomes powerless, helpless and despaired. The mother eventually turns into a selfish and monster-like character that refuses to do anything for anyone but her child.

For those who are familiar with classical psychological thrillers, “Mother!” is comparable to “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), which has a similar narrative of a mother protecting her child. However, the narrative of “Mother!” seems to fall flat of presenting the audience with a thrilling storyline within the first hour. The repetition of shots bored me and I felt like I was checking my watch every couple minutes to see how much longer it was going to last.

Until the final act of the movie, nothing extraordinary happens. One could potentially watch only the final 30 minutes of the movie to understand the plot, actually be scared and feel any kind of connection with the mother character.