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Parents' Guide to


By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Horrifying situations in surreal, escalating nightmare.

Movie R 2017 115 minutes
Mother! Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 29 parent reviews

age 18+

I liked it

I saw this movie in theatres back in 2017, and man it was very good but I almost had to walk out when it got to that scene with the baby if you know what I am talking about. The last 45 minutes got very chaotic quick and I had a huge migrane. Hopefully someday people will understand it

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
1 person found this helpful.
age 16+

An uncomfortable glimpse of humanity’s soul

About a quarter of the way through Mother! you realise that it is a burlesque, a very dark one. The promised descent into chaos comes sooner and more suddenly than you expect and you realise something quite unexpected is on the way. What is it going to say? Suddenly it’s not scary and discomforting anymore but enthralling, funny and true. You are in a mythical nightmare. The grossness and violence - which is shocking more than it is extreme or graphic - is just a prop. Mother! obeys Chekhov’s law of playwrighting as all visual clues come to realise a brutal significance - “a gun hanging over the mantelpiece in the first act has to be fired by the third”. I love this film. It tears away the gossamer thin veneer of goodness on the surface of societal culture and civilisation and reveals at its core a murderous amoral and insatiable absolute zero of interstellar space. Who is “he”? Is it God? Is it me? And what is the gemstone? Why is it worth more - to “him” - than all life? Like all great films, this one leaves you contemplating unanswered questions. The funniest aspect of Mother! is reading the reactions of people who watched it and didn’t get it. Did they glimpse enough of the film’s message to be offended? But once you see the film as a myth or parable, albeit a dark one, the moral take-away is a positive one.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (29 ):
Kids say (22 ):

Darren Aronofsky's mother! is superbly crafted -- and confounding. It defies easy description. It's not the kind of film you can simply call "good" or "bad," though its technique -- sound design, production design, cinematography, editing -- is certainly top-notch, instantly award-worthy. And while the film's idiosyncratic journey into surrealistic nightmare doesn't make it easy to recommend, the adventurous might find it rewarding. It begins as a deeply unsettling, extraordinarily acted chamber piece. The central couple (Lawrence, Bardem) are in an idyllic location, but there's subtle tension in their relationship as the husband struggles with his work. External forces (in the form of Harris and Pfeiffer, to start) threaten their equilibrium but also invigorate them. Aronofsky's script is purposefully underwritten to allow space for actors at the top of their game to show a great deal by relating to each other. And, just as much is unsaid, much is unseen: Meticulously arranged shots allow figures barely into the frame, creating tension as we peer around corners, down long halls, through doorways. The expertly crafted soundscape places audiences inside the beautiful and terrifying old house.

In its later stages, the film escalates in every way. Its earlier movements are marked by finely tuned ratcheting up of everything; it all occurs by degrees. As the cocoon shatters, so does reality. Without giving too much away, mother! becomes an all-out cinematic assault, for better or worse. It's a highly metaphorical film, but to discuss what its underlying themes reveal themselves to be would ruin the experience for those who haven't seen it. In a director's note, Aronofsky says this "fever dream" script "poured out of" him in five days. That's both easy and hard to believe. It has the insanity of dream logic, as well as the haggard free-association of a subconscious bombarded by news reports, phone alerts, and Hurricane Sandy, as the note cites. On the other hand, the film's execution is so precise, so expert that it feels too painstakingly layered to be spontaneous, even as it becomes more surreal. "Fever dream" is the right description for this dazzling display of cinematic skill that veers into madness.

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