mother! Review & Explanation (SPOILERS​)

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshipping.”  – Hurbert Reeves 

mother! Is the latest film by the daring writer/director Darren Aronofsky, starring a talented cast including the main characters played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem.  Marketing for the film has been enigmatic, the trailers giving away the bare minimum, which already creates questions and debate before the film is even out. Going into mother! I already had high expectations due to the fact that Aronofsky is one of my favourite writers/directors and was indeed the writer and director of the 2010 psychological thriller Black Swan, which in my eyes is a masterpiece. The trailers almost hinted towards a sort of psychological mind game played on Lawrence’s character, a Rosemary’s Baby sort of rip-off, or perhaps something to do with a cult. But what I got from mother! was much more than that, instead, Aronofsky has exceeded himself again and has created a work of art that will be spoken about for years to come.

SERIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD 

I’m not going to waste time explaining every detail because if you haven’t seen the film, you need to see it before you read this review/analysis. Instead, I’m just going to jump straight into it. Lawrence’s character is Mother Nature, and Bardem who plays her husband is God. The house that they live in represents the earth, and more specifically, Bardem’s character’s writing room is the Garden of Eden. Make sense?

(I’m going to refer to Lawrence and Bardem’s characters from now on as Mother and God)

We begin before human civilisation.
‘Baby?’ is the first words Mother speaks in the film after she wakes up and notices that her husband is not beside her. This immediately struck me as important, obviously because of the association of the title of the film mother! and baby as in a child. And this word is a sort of foreshadowing for the most critical point of the film and the catalyst for the climax.
We are given a sort-of tour of the beautiful secluded house that they live in. Its layout is circular, like of course, the earth (sorry flat-earthers!) and ultimately, the endless circle of destruction and creation. This not only gives the desired effect of representing the earth through its shape but also immediately creates a sense of dizziness for the audience, as the camera spins around to follow the characters weaving through each room.

We soon learn that Mother has recently rebuilt and redecorated their house since it burnt down in a fire. When she presses her hands to the walls, she can feel and envision a heartbeat. The house is incredibly important to her like a child, and she takes great pride in maintaining it. God is a poet who is struggling to get started on his new work, and this is proving to cause tension between the two. The doorbell rings. To Mother, this is a stranger. But God seems more than happy to let him into their house and give him a bed for the night despite Mother’s small protests. This character is Adam, the first man, and soon will come, Eve.

Mother is becoming increasingly more stressed as these two strangers move into her house and mess with her hard work, her clean surroundings and question her about her relationship with her husband and why they haven’t had kids. Mother is pushed aside by God, but soon enough, Adam and Eve go into the writing room and touch God’s most prized possession, the forbidden fruit, the crystal rock that he claims he saved from the fire when the house burnt down. They drop the crystal and it shatters, angering God and banishing them from his office, aka The Garden of Eden, and Mother finally thinks she might be able to get God to tell them to leave. But he doesn’t. And in fact, more and more people begin entering their house, obsessed with God and his poems. And despite the fact that Mother just wants to be alone with God, he loves the attention and adoration of the people. Soon Mother is pregnant, with of course what will be Jesus, and Mother is hopeful that they will finally get some time together. But this doesn’t happen, and Mother is pushed to breaking point as a literal war breaks out in her home. Everything is destroyed. People are everywhere. There are riots. Police brutality. Mass worship.
And then she begins to go into labour.

The tension that Aronskfy creates in this climax of the film is unreal. God and Mother stare each other out, with Mother determined not to let God hold Jesus and show him to the people. But eventually, she falls asleep, and in a flash, God has taken their son to the people for them to pass around. Mother is hysterical, weaving through hoards of people to get her baby back. And then, in perhaps the most shocking part of the film, his neck breaks. The people have killed her baby, have killed Jesus, and are now eating pieces his tiny body. Mother is naturally distraught and tries attacking the people, but God tells her to forgive them. They attack Mother, almost killing her before God makes them stop. A bruised and battered Mother begs God to tell them all to go, ‘they don’t listen to me’ she cries, a haunting reflection on the climate change and the blind damage we are doing to the earth.

The film is, of course, a commentary on how we as people have treated the earth. How blind faith is dangerous. It’s also a commentary on women in society, who are either goddesses, mothers, or whores. Or all three. It’s speaking on the idea of celebrity worship and the intrusion of privacy. It’s probably got even more messages to find than just those, and that’s what is so great about this film. It’s a discussion. There is no simple beginning middle and end because the film stays with the audience after they’ve left the cinema. It makes you question. And that’s my favourite part about it.


There are mirrors of Black Swan throughout this film, homages to Rosemary’s Baby and the surrealist classic, The Exterminating Angel. The performances of Lawrence and Bardem are powerful and strong throughout, and incredibly believable. The cinematography is stunning, the muted, ‘earthy’ (see what I did there) tones, the close-ups on Lawrence’s face and the disorientating camera work really puts you in the place of Mother and her confusion, her panic, her exhaustion. I had a lump in my throat from beginning to end. And I’m still not sure what that yellow liquid was, but I’m going to have a lot of fun researching it.

 

Psycho Cinderella’s Rating – 10/10

Tell me what you thought of mother! In the comments!

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MY TOP 5 MOST ROMANTIC MOVIES

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I’ve never been much for typical romance. I’ve never seen Dear John, or The Notebook, and I giant teddy bears creep me out. But with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’m done denying that I’m not a romantic…I’m just not romantic in the ways that perhaps others are. When thinking of the films to pick for this list I was tempted to include Natural Born Killers…you know, the film about the serial killing couple banned in some countries. The scene where they perform their own wedding ceremony on the bridge is so beautifully romantic to me – but don’t recommend me a therapist just yet – as I’ve actually managed to find five romantic dramas that I actually do enjoy, and these have a lot less murder.

Continue reading MY TOP 5 MOST ROMANTIC MOVIES

SPLIT – FILM REVIEW

(SPOILER FREE)

SPLIT, written and directed by the talented M. Night Shyamalan, starring the wonderful James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley. The film follows McAvoy as he plays a character with split personality disorder, also known as dissociative personality disorder, after he kidnaps three girls and interacts with them in each of his personalities.

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THREE FILM REVIEWS – ARRIVAL, ALLIED & THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Apologies are in order before I start this blog post. I have been tragically neglecting my blog for a while now, and films that I’ve seen have came and gone and I’m still yet to review them. My only excuse is that I’m in my third year of university and also well…I spend far too much of my free time napping. I’m not kidding, I really did just wake up from a nap…

I figured since I’ve been meaning to review a few recent films, I’d compile them into one blog post, telling you the basics, and why (or why not) you should go and see the film!

First up is ARRIVAL – a science fiction based on a 1998 short story titled “Story of Your Life”. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, the film stars the lovely Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

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Going into Arrival, I was expecting a pretty decent film about aliens. That’s what the trailer suggested, and as a keen alien lover (that sounds strange but then, I guess it is) I was excited by the premise of aliens coming to earth and instead of it being a dramatic and violent world war, people actually try and use education and knowledge to translate their language and communicate with them, to find out why they’re here. Along with UFO’s and Aliens, another one of my interests is in linguistics and language, so I was really excited to see how the two came together in the film. 

But Arrival turned out to be much more than what I expected. I came out actually experiencing something touching, something beautiful and thoughtful, and something that felt like one of those films that stay with you forever. As much as Arrival is of course, about aliens coming to earth and the different countries figuring out how they’re going to deal with it amongst the wide spread panic, it’s also more importantly about Amy’s character and her impact on the world, the events of her life, and how intricately connected the world is.

Something I’m really interested in is the concept of time and how it may not be as linear as we perceive it, and how that links into death, other universes and dimensions and the theory that the past, present and future is all happening at once. Arrival not only touched on these subjects, but really brought them down to a personal level with Amy’s character, and represented the aliens in a very ‘human’ way, one that I could understand and relate to, something that has not often been done in films before. The CGI for the aliens was also incredibly unique, kind of frightening, and incredibly intriguing to see on a massive screen in front of you. landscape-1474899549-arrival-poster

I found Arrival to be an incredibly thought provoking, touching and beautiful film. It gave me much, much more than I expected, and seemed to come at a time when I was already questioning some of the elements that we’re brought up in the film, connecting with me on more than just a enjoyment level. I really recommend this film even if you’re not into aliens, but if all you want is a quick and easy sci-fi about aliens coming to earth and reeking havoc…this film probably isn’t for you.

PSYCHO CINDERELLA’S RATING – 10/10

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The next film on my list to discuss is ALLIED, a world war two romantic thriller starring Brad Pitt and the wonderful Marion Cotillard, directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight.

I was really intrigued by the trailer for Allied, it seemed fast paced and interesting, a thriller to keep you guessing until the end. Following the story of an intelligence officer and a resistance fighter, the two meet in Nazi occupied Casablanca in French Morocco, and fall in love, deciding to get married and spend their lives together back in London.

The characters of Max and Marianne are incredibly endearing. Marianne particularly, played by Marion, was incredibly captivating to watch on screen, and the perfect choice for a character who was supposed to be loved by everyone, the life and soul of a party. Happily married and now with a child, Anna, one day Max is called into Special Operations and is told that they suspect his wife of being a german spy. Obviously Max is angry and confused, as you would if someone just accused your partner of such a thing, but is told if the test they plant works, it will prove she is a german spy and he will be ordered to kill her.

allied1Of course as a loving husband, Max is completely convinced his wife is not a german spy. But the seed of doubt has been planted, and it itches away at Max from the moment he gets home, escalating into something much bigger, as the we the audience are right there with him, wondering if the charming and lovely Marianne is actually a traitor.

The film actually doesn’t have that much action, especially not as much as I was expecting. But that’s not so much a criticism, I actually found the film to be very touching and quite sophisticated, relying on the jeopardy of the problem Max faces as enough to be thrilling for the audience. I felt the film ended quicker than expected, and was lacking just a touch of something I can’t put my finger on, but overall moved me by the emotional ending and stuck with me for a while.

PSYCHO CINDERELLA’S RATING – 6/10

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Lastly I thought I’d mention, The Girl on The Train, starring Emily Blunt and some other well known faces. Based on the great book by Paula Hawkins of the same name, I was expecting great things from this thriller, hoping it would be adapted as well as, if not better, than Gone Girl. 

But I was wrong. The Girl on the Train was a decent film, but compared to the book, it really fell short on a lot of places. Emily Blunt was, in my eyes, a great choice for the main character of Rachel. A depressed alcoholic with a slight obsession with her ex-husband who cheated on her and is now living in the house they lived together with his new wife and child, you can’t blame her for being a little out of sorts. Justin Theroux, who played the ex-husband Tom, was also a great fit, but one big thing really let the film fall short for me.

The setting. The book is set in London, in all its glorious grittiness, it’s dark, miserable weather, cramped train journeys where all there is to look out at is rows of wall to wall houses. The setting matched the story line perfectly, emulated it even, and almost became it’s own character by the end. But in the film, they changed the setting to New York, with a train journey that goes behind these stunning houses, with balconies and huge gardens that the sun shines over. Even if I had not read the book and already had the setting of London in my mind, I think the setting still would have stood out as wrong to me. Juxtapositions between setting and story line can be effective, but in this case, it seemed…unrealistic, and took away from what the setting created before.

Overall, the film was okay, but it really didn’t give justice to the amazing psychological thriller that Hawkins wrote. Emily Blunt’s performance was amazing, believable, and passionate, but the other women characters in the film came across stereotypical and flat, and the constant cuts to past and present were enough to give me whiplash.

PSYCHO CINDERELLA’S RATING – 5/10

Have you watched any of these films this year? What did you think? Is there any 2016 films you think I should see before the end of the year? Let me know in the comments!

BLACK MIRROR – ‘NOSEDIVE’ REVIEW

 

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Last night, once again attempting to decide what I should watch on Netflix, I noticed that season three of Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ had been released. An anthology series of speculative fiction that’s usually dark and sometimes even ‘bleak’, as Brooker claims himself, Black Mirror is just up my street. It’s satirical themes that question and examine modern society and present to us thousand’s of plausible ‘what if’s’, Black Mirror is not only exceptional original writing, it’s visually great to watch, and is layered with symbolism throughout.

Nosedive is the first episode in the new season. Starring Brice Dallas Howard who plays Lacie Pound, we follow her through her day to day life in a future that seems not too distant from one that we live in now. Everyone is obsessed with image and how others perceive and rate them, not only figuratively, but also literally – everyone has a visible rating that you can see by looking at someone (with some high tech program fitted into you eyes). Everyone is incredibly nice. So nice, so sweet, it’s enough to give you diabetes just looking at them interact with each other.

Continue reading BLACK MIRROR – ‘NOSEDIVE’ REVIEW