The Subterranean: ‘Mother!’ is my wife’s worst nightmare

A review of Mother!

**** 1/2 out of five stars

Currently in theaters

by Walter G. Tarrow

My wife has made our home the heart and soul and be all of our life and marriage for fifty years. She, like Sally Kellerman in “The April Fools,” is creating and recreating with project after project both big and small.

The house, our home, is never done, will never be done, can never be done. It changes with the seasons. It changes with each holiday. It changes with her mood. And it is beautiful, joyful, alive. She made it, makes it, for us, for we two, and our child. And I love her for it.

Above all, the home my wife has made is privately ours. She takes her pride intimately and personally not needing to share her home with others to complete, to validate, her creations. In fact, visitors can be a source of concern since they often don’t have the love, the respect, the passion she has for what she has made.

Jennifer Lawrence is “Mother.” Mother, too, has made a home for Javier Bardem, for him and her. She has resurrected their home from the burned skeleton of the home that had always been his. She spends her days, all days, lavishing her love, trowel in hand, spreading colorful plaster on the walls, changing the complexion of the interior, fleshing out each room. Every day she has repaired, reconstructed, built a loving sanctuary for her and him the writer.

The writer who is blocked, who is struggling to find the words to follow up his previous masterpiece. Mother continually tries to comfort him, to feed him, to inspire him, with his home restored to the idyllic place of his memories, with sumptuous meals and, above all, contemplative solitude. But, for him, all that, and her love, is no longer enough.

He, without her knowledge, without her consent, invites others into their home. One man, Ed Harris, at first, then a woman, Michelle Pfeiffer, his wife, then their sons, Brian and Domhnall Gleeson, come along. Slowly, but always with problems for Mother.

The man drinks heavily and smokes in her smoke-free home. The woman asks personal questions, has questionable hygiene and is offensive to Mother. All, painfully to her, make themselves disrespectfully at home, all with welcoming permission from her husband. Mother and her home begin to suffer, and that suffering, with brief redemption, reaches epic Biblical proportions.

This is a multilayered work. “Mother!” is a work of feminism. Roseanne Barr’s description “domestic goddess” comes to mind. It is also a simple story of a couple beginning a new life together, building a home, starting a family, getting to know the neighbors, falling in and out of love, and striving for success, fame and fortune. And it is a Judeo-Christian allegory full and fraught with religious symbolism, imagery and minutiae.

With oodles of chutzpah, Darren Aronofsky has written and directed his masterpiece. One can easily spend countless hours picking up and examining every meaningful word, phrase, sentence, object, look and feel in the context of each layer of story.

Jennifer Lawrence face fills the screen. Her seriousness and intensity are right there unflinchingly lose to us. I’m now more familiar with every detail of her motherly punim than I am with my own. Javier Bardem’s expressive face is more rubbery than ever.

With his camera always up close, very close, with Mother, Aronofsky gives us the story of God and Man told from the most needed objective third party view. At once very intimate and accessible, but profoundly universal, Mother! is a film that will stay with you forever. A cinematic mind worm.


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