I believe the exclamation mark (!) is part of the title. It was significantly presented at the beginning.
By the time I saw it, everything that could be said about this movie was already said. Haters had hated and lovers had loved it. I don’t care much about spoilers and therefore I don’t care much about spoiling anything as well. But this movie is not relying on any big revelation. However, this movie was advertised as a “horror film”, which it is not.
Mother! is a plain and simple film about a couple and their house in the middle of sprawling isolation of nature. The protagonist is the wife and the antagonist is the husband. We, the audience, are invited to relate to the protagonist through her care and love for the house. And, to relate with the antagonist through his antagonizing behavior towards the mother and their house as he invites unruly guests – who eventually ravage the house. This is the undeniable simplicity of the plot.
Beyond the plot, the story of this film is an allegory – and not a subtle one at that. The movie does not waste much time in letting the biblical allegory be exposed as to, who the Husband is representing and who are the first set of guests coming in to the house. The wife, or Mother! in the movie represents an idea that is not so much a direct take from bible but nevertheless an extremely general take of who a mother can be thought as. For example – Mother earth, mother nature, the nurturer, the birth giver, the care taker and even perhaps Mary the mother of Jesus. If this movie is a portrait of this character that Mr. Aronofsky has created, then it is sufficing to say that he is showing no intention in convoluting her in mystery or subtlety. Mother! is exactly what you may think a mother maybe, or could be. Similarly, the Husband is also quite on the nose as God; the one from Bible. The story, the movie however is about the wife therefore she takes the center stage. This is the undeniable simplicity of the story.
The narrative of the movie is not so much to follow the trail of events that will eventually lead to an elaborate conclusion but rather to make the audience “feel” what the Mother! must be feeling; to have a sense how life must feel beneath her skin. Therefore, the events in the narrative are all the effects that our protagonist lives through – and we, the audience, experience it alongside her. This is the simplicity of the narrative.
The complication of this movie that spurs the controversy, the extreme sentiments, the extreme opinions and perhaps even the confusion – lies in the execution. This movie makes no promises in entertaining its audiences in a conventional way. Instead, it makes a straight forward attempt at making you feel bad alongside its main character. This movie will put you inside the skin of Mother! very effectively. You will feel the pain she is going through, you will feel the anxiety she is feeling and you will feel the sadness she must have felt at the end. This is the undeniable success of this movie. As far as the allegory is considered, these are uncomfortable themes that Darren Aronofsky is playing with. At that, the allegory is the manifestation of his perspective of these characters and these themes; the character and themes that command deep rooted sentiments in the hearts of audiences. There, Mr. Aronofsky has taken a chance to say whatever he wanted to say, only because a “chance” was made available to him. Everyone in his audience might have something to say about these same characters and same themes – they just don’t get to be Darren Aronofsky (A masterful filmmaker with a studios backing of millions of dollars). I can see the cause of resentment but that resentment is what the movie is promising to offer.
I think the movie was very simple and it was very well put together (there are no flaws in there). The movie is also very clear in its objectives and delivers them effectively. As an audience member; the movie is whatever it is. As a filmmaker: Darren Aronofsky did everything that any filmmaker would have done if given the same chance. He is honest, un-pretentious about his pretentiousness and brave (he does not hold back). I think, because what he has done with his chance that he has gotten – he will get another chance to do something similar. This thought excites me because it promises, in its own crooked way, a possibility of a liberated thought becoming into a movie.
I give this film 3 out 5 because no one should give a movie like this full marks. This is the highest it could earn.