Anybody, who is a bit more into movies than the average movie going audience, knows the name of Darren Aronofsky. Whenever you hear his name you think of movies that are no longer entertainment, they are, in fact, works of art. They require attention, sensibility, knowledge and reflection in order to be understood and appreciated. If you look at Aronofsky’s body of work, you will find that he is a fearless film maker. He is not shy to put on full display the ugly, dark side of things. He always does pretty much his own thing, and while he does not have such a signature style such as David Lynch or Wes Anderson, Aronofsky is member of the select group of directors, who’s movies can only be compared to the directors previous works. You can compare Scorsese to Coppola or de Palma, but Aronofsky can only be compared to Aronofsky. On a personal note, to this date, I have seen over 1000 movies, that have registered with me in some capacity and that I can recall in one way or another. Aronofsky’s The Fountain is in my top 1% of movies.
In terms of story, this is a 2 act movie, one that is crazy and another one that is downright, certifiably, insane. The setup is as follows. Jennifer Lawrence lives with her husband, Javier Bardem, in a large house, in the middle of nowhere. He is a very famous writer/poet and she is a home maker, in this case quite literally, as she singlehandedly restores the house they are living in, since that was previously destroyed in a fire. She is happy with things as they are, or at least, she is content with her situation. He is having writers block. Then one night a man, played by Ed Harris, comes knocking on the door. His wife, played by Michelle Pfeifer, soon follows suit. And from there on, pandemonium ensues.
I could actually give away the entire story and would make no difference at all for 2 big reasons. Number one, this is not your average movie, as the plot is not meant to be taken at face value, it is a Gordon bleu of metaphors. What you see and what you are intended to walk away with are 2 utterly different things. Number two, there is just no way I can reproduce or even give a true sense of the epic madness that comes out of the projector. All I can tell you that many times I had the urge to stand up and walk out of the movie theater and even more times than that, I had to fight myself not to shout out to the screen in sheer protest.
Basically, the movie is about the act of creation and the act of destruction. How much the act of creation demands destruction in the first place, but also, how much destruction is suffered by the creation itself. And how the destruction and creation is an endless cycle. This is the base concept, put in an elegant way. The actual application of it can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. As I said, the movie is a Gordon bleu of metaphors, one can find parallels to the bible, as in God and nature and how the nasty humans ruin everything; one can interpret the movie as the tale of artistic creation, how difficult of a process it is for the artist and to those around it and when the creation is revealed to the world, how it is robbed from the artist and eventually destroyed by outside forces because of misinterpretation. It can be interpreted as a social commentary of our world today and the fucked up state that it is in and it also can be interpreted as a clash between a logical, introverted Yin and an artistic, extraverted Yang. All of them can be true, none of them matter. Because this movie sucks.
Listen, if I were to take a blank canvas and threw paint on it in a random fashion, the end result would be different for each person, since everybody would see something else on the canvas. Some might call it a work of art, even genius. I would call it a waste of paint and canvas. So is this movie. There is a metaphor for every kind of problem that had a headline in the news in like the past 3 years. It is an easy way to ensure that something will stick with each number of audience if you throw everything at them, even, literally, the kitchen sink. And as the metaphors keep piling up exponentially, so does the shock value. The movie start out as a slow boiling conflict and ends as a straight up assault on sense and reason. And this is bad. This is not art. Art is supposed to be beauty. Art is supposed to tame the beast. Art is supposed to educate, to ELEVATE. Here, art simply goes down on the level of cable news and reddit threads. It starts a shouting match in the purpose to get a reaction out the audience, since subtle hints do not work anymore, you need to use a sledge hammer to get the attention of people. It is a twitter feed dressed up in a metaphor. If I want to sample this kind of madness, I can just start watching the news, thank you very much. And it takes itself so seriously, that it is such an abstract, intellectual artwork when it is nothing more than big pile of absurdity. It tries to communicate so much, yet in the end no message is delivered. It is like watching somebody dancing ballet on stage while the speakers are blasting dubstep, but you supposed to extrapolate and appreciate the genius of it, just because there is a person playing live violin behind the curtains and the entire thing is not about the dancing but between the clash of the old ways with the new in todays day and age. Confusing? Not as much as this movie. Often life imitates art. Here art tried to imitate life and got lost in the process.
In the end this movie is many things. It is ambitious. It is pretentious. It is shocking. It is absurd. It is a waste of celluloid. It is senseless. It is worthless.
The only good thing that I can say about the movie is that it certainly will not leave you indifferent towards it.
Mother! – the worst movie of 2017.