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biast | by maryann johanson

mother! movie review: from WTF to STFU

mother! red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Darren Aronofsky’s self-pitying cinematic rending of garments is repulsive, transparent, and pointless. A grotesquely wrapped gift box of utter banality.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): have mostly been a fan of Darren Aronofsky; love Jennifer Lawrence
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I cannot recall the last time a film made me as angry as Darren Aronofsky’s mother! has. Maybe never. (Yes, the title is most emphatically with a lowercase “m” and an exclamation point. And yes, that’s emblematic of what’s making me so angry.) As mother! — *grrr* — unfurled over its two-hour runtime, I found myself actually clenching my jaw with ever-increasing fury as Aronofsky’s head wended its way further and further up his own cinematic ass only to declare just how delicious his farts smell. This is a filmmaker for whom mysticism and trippiness have been essential components of his work since the beginning, since his feature debut with 1998’s Pi… and I’ve often been a big fan of that. (I loved his last film, 2014’s bonkers Biblical fantasy Noah.) But never before like this. Never before has an uncomfortable ugliness he was exploring landed with such repulsive pointlessness,tweet such transparent predictability. Aronofsky is intent on presenting to us in faux metaphysical trappings a “truth” he seems to believe is secret and cryptic yet that is, in fact, utterly banal and inarguable. He has given us a grotesquely wrapped gift box that contains nothing but shredded newsprint sprinkled with a bit of horseshit.

Mother tries to imagine what color looks like, but her puny ladybrain is not capable of this.

“Mother” tries to imagine what color looks like, but her puny ladybrain is not capable of this.tweet

mother! is not an allegory, and it is not metaphorical, though I’m sure Aronofsky — who wrote the script as well as directed — would say it is. Allegory and metaphor are what you find hidden underneath a top layer of story that stands on its own. Nothing here makes a damn lick of sense — not even in a nightmarish, fever-dream sort of way — except as the literal sequence of events that plods across the screen, and the “characters” are nothing more than cardboard stand-ups representing themselves.tweet No one has a name here, but the press notes and the credits refer to Jennifer Lawrence’s (Passengers, X-Men: Apocalypse) character as “Mother,” even though she does not become a mother until halfway through the film, and even though it actually does not seem likely during that first half that she will ever become a mother. Motherhood is simply her inevitable fate, I guess. Mother has no existence outside the huge, rambling mansion in the middle of nowhere where she lives with her husband (Javier Bardem: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, The Gunman). He does have an external existence: he is not “Father” but “Him.” He is able to leave the house and venture far beyond their middle-of-nowhere — she never does — and he is a writer, a poet, someone with adoring fans eagerly awaiting his next book, someone with work that bears no connection to her, beyond how, of course, she serves as his muse, his “inspiration.” She literally does nothing but serve him: she is renovating the house, which burned down before they met. She wants to “make a paradise” for him. She has no other desire. She has no personality or purpose beyond that. We cannot even call her self-abnegating: she doesn’t appear to have had any self to begin with. She might actually be a manifestation of the house, which has a bloody heart and a bleeding vulva — yes, the house has these things. The house is as alive as she is. Or she is as dead as a house.

“Mother” has no personality or purpose beyond serving her poet-god husband. She’s not even self-abnegating: she doesn’t appear to have ever had any “self.”
tweet

Anyway, paradise is invaded: one of Him’s stalkerish fans, Man (Ed Harris: Run All Night, Gravity), stops by for a visit, and won’t leave. Later, Man’s wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer: Dark Shadows, New Year’s Eve), arrives and makes herself obnoxiously at home. Woman is also pretty much defined solely as a mother, to adult sons Oldest Son and Younger Brother (played by real-life brothers Domhnall [The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens] and Brian Gleeson [Logan Lucky, Snow White and the Huntsman]). If Mother’s “paradise” comment was a tip-off, the Cain-and-Abel dynamic between the adult sons cements it: Aronofsky is going to wallow in a tortured literalism not only about literary creation but capital-C Creation,tweet but only from a narrow and abhorrently misogynistic perspective: men create, and Create, and women suffer for men’s art, and for men’s religion, and that’s just the way it is, now and forever. (Dude, we know. This is not something you discovered. Or did you honestly only just learn this?) In Aronofsky’s eye here, women do not create — beyond giving birth to sons for their fathers to do with as they please — and there is no vision or imagination that comes from the mind of a woman: Mother dresses in drab neutrals, and she’s painting Him’s house in the same noncolors. The creativity of men, however: Wow! It is chaotic and violent, apocalyptic, even. It thrives on chaos and violence. Him craves that excitement, and encourages it, and too bad if Mother will become a victim of it.

Mother tries to imagine what life beyond the house is like, but her uncreative ladybrain fails her.

“Mother” tries to imagine what life beyond the house is like, but her uncreative ladybrain fails her.tweet

Mother exists for no purpose in this tale except so that abuse may be heaped upon hertweet in the service of Him, and so that she may be venerated by Him for it. But that is also the purpose of Mother to mother! The most generous interpretation of Aronofsky’s intent here is that he is somehow condemning the reduction of women to dehumanized objects and brutalized symbols in both the overarching mythology of our culture and in the prosaic daily operations of Big Entertainment, such as — ahem — the making of movies and the resulting stories that end up on the screen. Aronofsky may even think he is sympathetic to Mother: the entire film is seen through her eyes, and intimate handheld cameras give us her dizzied, sickened perspective on events that are horrifying and menacing her. But it’s the same hatred for women masquerading as feminism that a slasher flick engages in when it sexualizes a final girl’s terror for the titillation of the audience. You don’t counter the awful crap that gets piled on women by our culture, High or Low, by piling on more of the same awful crap. (See also: Ex Machina and Under the Skin for two other recent contemptible attempts by male filmmakers to have their feminist cake and their misogyny too.) If mother! really wanted to decry the way women are abused and men are deified, it wouldn’t merely slather an arty veneer on more of the same-old same-old.tweet

Mother wonders why her husband loves his fans more than her, but her sad ladybrain finds no answers.

“Mother” wonders why her husband loves his fans more than her, but her sad ladybrain finds no answers.tweet

But the worst, the absolutely most infuriating thing about mother! is, on top of all of this, the self-pitying. Woe is the male-creator-god, so afflicted by his talent, so tormented by his doubt, so wracked by artist’s block! Look at the damage the love of his fans, and his love for his fans, causes! Look what his genius made him do to his inspiration, his muse! It hurts him more than it hurts her, don’cha know. (This is how abusers talk. Not that there is any awareness of this on the part of the film.) And any supposed feminist wokeness on Aronofsky’s part that might redeem this cinematic rending of garments, this creative self-flagellation,tweet is instantly negated by screaming reality. The filmmaker might think he has scorned his poet-god’s need for validation and “inspiration” in a trite much-younger woman — there are 21 years between Bardem and Lawrence — when he has Man scoff, “I thought she was your daughter,” not wife. But this is true: Aronofsky, who is precisely the same age as Bardem, is now dating Lawrence. So is Bardem’s poet-god worthy of scoff and scorn, or worth emulating? What of Aronofsky?

Sometimes it’s easy and fine to separate the art from the artist, and sometimes he makes that laughably impossible.


red light 0 stars

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mother! (2017) | directed by Darren Aronofsky
US/Can release: Sep 15 2017
UK/Ire release: Sep 15 2017

MPAA: rated R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language
BBFC: rated 18 (strong violence)

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card (now updated for 2017’s trolls!) you might want to reconsider.

  • Greg

    Are you serious? 0 out of 5. You’re delusional.

  • bronxbee

    there should be a film review comment bingo square for this inevitable comment.

  • Greg

    Ok then. The movie was absolutely outstanding. Most stressful experience at the movies in my life. Everything about this movie was well made and Jennifer Lawrence is incredible. How can a lot of critics gave 5 out of 5 stars or 4 out of 5 stars and she’s there with a zero. Maybe it’s not your type of movie, but it’s anything but a 0/5 movie. Period.

  • Anna

    Lawrence will prob get an Oscar or at least a nomination for this, so the critics say. :(

  • Day_is_Over

    Someone please ruin the movie for me.

  • Jack Brooks

    Sounds to me like Johanson recognizes that this emperor not only has no clothes, but needs a good hosing down. Vile trash masquerading as Art.

    And what sort of person goes to a movie in order to be stressed? That’s weird, too.

  • Day_is_Over

    Well, according to the box office for IT, a lot of people. But Aronofsky has a way of pushing the squirm button to a hundred so I suppose it’s simple enough to say this is not for everyone.

  • Winston

    Only great films cause this much anger. :)

  • Beowulf

    I’m curious…. You say you saw this with an audience of critics and regular folks. What was their reaction? Could you gauge it?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    If only there were some indication as to what exactly about the movie could cause that kind of reaction…

    Ah, well, I guess it must remain a mystery.

  • Lydia

    Yes, please. Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes are giving me nothin’.

  • Jessica Hanson

    I’m pretty sure people aren’t paying to see “IT” to deliberately bum themselves out. This film, on the other hand, sounds incredibly irritating. This particular review seems to have more fire behind it than her review of Nymphomaniac and THC3 — I might end up paying to see it out of sheer curiosity. I wonder how mainstream audiences will react when this hits theaters.

  • MidxMidwest

    For the life of me I can’t understand why you don’t include, under your Biast (con): “I’m blindly, aggressively negative toward anything that isn’t overtly, eat-your-spinach pro-womyn.”

  • You do understand that “well made” and good performances are not the same thing as “a film worth seeing”? Unless you completely discount what a film is *saying,* I suppose…

  • Not really, but if it makes you feel better to think so, go for it.

  • There was no overt general reaction in one direction or the other. But in talking to people after the screening, I know that lots of others felt as I do. Even some critics.

  • I understand that you’re just trolling, that you want to ensure that we all know that you are a hardassed edgelord who is totally cool with how women are treated by our culture. But I’m going to give you a serious answer anyway.

    My bias thing is about my expectations going into a film: How am I primed, or not, for it? All we had to go with this one was the director and the cast, and I’ve enjoyed all their work previously, so my expectations were wholly positive.

    Now, if I had known in advance how misogynist this movie is, I might have said something like “I believe that women are people, not objects or trophies or playthings for men, and hence I am not generally kindly disposed to movies that act as if this is not true.” I’d like to think that that is a given and doesn’t need to be stated, but you have just proven otherwise, so I know this is a foolish optimism on my part.

    If I’d known what this film was about, I might have noted as a “con” that I have zero fucks left to give for men’s self-aggrandizing bullshit. But again, I was lulled into pre-movie complacency and had no inkling what I was in for.

    Thanks for asking.

  • Dent

    Suicide Squad wasn’t good either.

  • MidxMidwest

    I love the idea of critics stating their biases up front. But for some reason you consistently miss the massive one you have re: feminism in film. It’s absolutely a criteria for you. Even now you argue that it doesn’t exist–with lots of interesting name-calling.

  • Bluejay

    But for some reason you consistently miss the massive one you have re: feminism in film. It’s absolutely a criteria for you. Even now you argue that it doesn’t exist

    Bahahahahaha! OF COURSE she’s a feminist film critic, as all her longtime readers know and appreciate. It’s such a basic given of her philosophy that there’s no need to explicitly restate it for EVERY review. It’s so plainly obvious from everything she says, does she really need to handhold you and explain “FYI, I’m saying this because I’m a feminist”? Just like YOU don’t need to state “I’m an anti-feminist troll” before every comment – we can just figure out your bias from your comments themselves.

  • Day_is_Over

    They really have kept a tight lid on this thing. But once opening weekend comes it should be all over the internet.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Are you naturally this dense, or do you work at it? I mean, you managed to completely skip over the third paragraph of MaryAnn’s response. And that’s even aside from writing as though you are well versed in her work, yet have clearly never bothered to click through her “critic’s manifesto”, clearly linked on every review.

    So which is, are you deliberately obtuse, or just kinda dumb?

  • Winston

    If there were not a bunch of extremely positive reviews I would agree. But we have a lot of reviews saying this is a brilliant film and yours saying it’s utter trash. That suggests a viscerally powerful film, love it or hate it.

  • Bluejay

    That just makes it a divisive film, and a divisive film is not necessarily a great one. And arts criticism isn’t like science; the numbers of people who agree on an opinion don’t prove objective quality.

  • LaSargenta

    I’ll take Willfully Obtuse for $500, Alex.

  • Day_is_Over

    He said stressed out. Being scared creates stress. So do roller coasters. People do indeed pay to be temporarily stressed all the time.

  • CB

    Okay maybe it’s a -1/5 movie.

  • Edoardo

    JLaw’s character is mother Earth. Bardem’s God. She does everything for him. He is worshipped for what he sometimes does and that seems to be all he cares about. Because of him, she get beaten up more and more until she can’t stand it anymore and kills herself, and everything with her. Until he creates another one.

  • bronxbee

    self-indulgent, masturbatory male crap always seems to elicit divisive reviews… mainly fanboys praising their emperor’s new clothes portraying every fantasy being shown on screen, and more discerning critics who say “but he’s naked!”

  • Danielm80

    Based on the comments on this site, Mark Millar must be the greatest filmmaker of all time.

  • If you are suggesting that I won’t praise a film that isn’t feminist, then this can only mean that you’ve read very little of what I’ve written.

  • JLaw’s character is mother Earth.

    I don’t think that quite works. She wouldn’t be so helpless and powerless if she were.

  • Day_is_Over

    In a recent Q&A Aronofsky has alluded to the film being about how we treat mother earth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRNXSe6YqH8

  • Edoardo

    I think that’s one of the main reasons why the movie made little to no sense to me, even when “explained” by its author. The whole idea is so trivial it ruins even the most inspired moments.

  • Jessica Hanson

    According to Lawrence and Aronofski, this film *is* extremely *feminist*. :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyZVUC5jeVw

  • Bluejay

    Having feminist intent doesn’t always successfully translate into a feminist result, though; whatever the creator’s wishes, a piece of art can be taken by its audience in unexpected ways, and perhaps reveal things about the artist that he didn’t consciously intend or anticipate.

  • Danielm80

    I haven’t had a chance to watch the video, and I’m a little afraid to press play, but I’m guessing that this link is still relevant, so I’m reposting it from MaryAnn’s article above:

    https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2014/04/movies-like-skin-nymphomaniac-feminist.html

  • IntrepidNormal

    Well, everyone likes a movie that makes them feel something, even negative emotions like fear or sadness. Not defending the movie by the way, I haven’t seen it, and probably won’t.

  • Мишка Бортник

    Mother Earth *is* pretty helpless and powerless, though. Do you not see how we have treated our home over the centuries as a species? We steal from her, endlessly exploit her riches, lay waste to her beauty, wage wars and enact genocide against each other, cause her senseless and inconceivable harm… Sound familiar to any of the experiences in the film yet?

    The film isn’t trying to put Him on a pedestal and make Him out to be a tortured male genius, or say that the Mother/wife can only serve him as she is inherently inferior as a female. It’s saying that He is a selfish fucking asshole who only cares about being adored, and that his followers are violent fanatics who never appreciate the gifts He steals from the Mother for them (the home she built and the child she carried).

  • Bluejay

    Mother Earth *is* pretty helpless and powerless, though.

    The fact that you can say this after two devastating hurricanes and a record-breaking earthquake, just in the past few weeks, is amazing to me. Yes, we cause the earth harm, but in doing so we also cause the earth to inflict immense pain upon US. And even if we treated our world perfectly, it still finds countless ways to kill us (see this and this and this). We SHOULD treat the earth better, for our own sake, but let’s not pretend that Mother Nature isn’t an unimaginably powerful and lethal force itself.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgGgkkGE7QU&t=58s

  • Мишка Бортник

    Spoiler alert, I guess: Mother unleashes her rage in the end and humanity is ultimately wiped out. It lines up with the climate change line of thought that the seeming increased intensity and destructiveness of our natural disasters that you have linked is man-made (we are the ones pushing her to these extremes).

  • Josh Board

    I’m a movie critic in San Diego, and one of the only critics I read is MaryAnn. I’m almost always in agreement with her, and this movie is no exception. At the screening in San Diego (with only critics), 90% of us HATED this movie (men and women). I think only one critic liked it, and that was merely because “I’ll never forget that last 30 minutes.” The movie is pretentious crap. And I have to add something…I think the “bias” thing done before her reviews is brilliant. We have this critic in San Diego that praises ANYTHING Martin Scorsese does, even the bad movies. We used to have another critic that praised ANYTHING the Coen brothers do. It helps so much to know what the critic thinks before hand. Siskel & Ebert often changed their reviews, and would explain why they initially gave a review a thumbs down (this happened with Donnie Darko and The Unforgiven). I think MaryAnn blows them away, because her bias NEVER affects what she thinks of the actual movie (I don’t believe), but she tells you what they are anyway.

  • Mary

    Simply a polite suggestion to the reviewer: Go back and re-watch this entire movie viewing the Lawrence character not as a literal woman, but as Mother Earth. Then re-consider everything you’ve written here.

  • Jack Brooks

    I hate roller coasters, too, so I suppose that means I’m consistent. I was reacting more to JLaw’s saying she hoped everyone would be “disturbed” by the movie. Yeah, no thanks, JLaw, I don’t go to movies to have my stomach turned upside down.

  • Jack Brooks

    Is the movie misanthropic?` Misogynist seems to be the noun of the day, but misanthropy isn’t a good thing, either.

  • Bluejay

    We ARE pushing the planet to extremes, and that’s a bad thing. But even if we weren’t, this is still a pretty lethal place to live. Lots of us have been wiped out by the Ice Age, Pompeii, the Black Plague, the Spanish flu, the Ebola outbreak, earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, etc etc, long before we started playing this dangerous game with the climate. The planet has never been “helpless or powerless.”

    Yes, we’re making things worse, just like it’s a bad idea to poke a tiger with a stick. But a tiger isn’t “helpless or powerless” before you poke it; it’s already dangerous to begin with, and it might STILL eat you even if you don’t do anything to it. :-)

  • Мишка Бортник

    That’s fair. I will admit that these aren’t exactly my personal deeply held beliefs, I of course can see the destructive power and danger of nature, I’m just trying to explain what I believe the film is trying to say and what its worldview seems to be.

  • amanohyo

    Well said, but her biases definitely affect what she thinks of a movie – she wouldn’t be human if they didn’t. The important thing is that she is aware of her biases, she advises her readers of them, and she’s open and honest enough to be surprised by an unexpected reaction. The vast majority of critics and commenters and… humans assume that their own reaction to a piece of art comes from a place of pure, rational objectivity and are astonished and often angry when a critic with different biases has a different reaction/interpretation. The insularity of consumption has gotten much worse the past few years. It’s all those damn millennials’ fault…(just kidding).

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Already addressed elsewhere in the comments.

  • Angel Garcia

    She would be in the same way that Mother Earth is defenseless against us.

  • Josh Board

    But it doesn’t, amanohyo. Here’s an example. When I saw “Boogie Nights,” I proclaimed Paul Thomas Anderson to be the best filmmaker to come along in awhile. And each time I go to one of his films, I’m hoping for another home run, and I’m usually (almost always) disappointed. Trust me, critics opinion of a movie doesn’t change because we favor a director, or actor, etc. I interviewed Marisa Tomei. The only interview I”ve ever done that was awful (after she yelled at me). Yet if she does a great movie, I’ll state that. I despise Roman Polanski as a person, yet The Ghost Writer was on my Top 10 list of films that year. It’s not hard to do.

  • Josh Board

    Here’s the problem with that logic, Mary. No matter how you look at all that…it’s still a mess of a movie. Trust me, after the screening, I did all that. I looked at how the biblical stuff worked … how the “mother earth” aspects worked…if it was the house that was the “mother”…but no matter how you slice it, the movie still comes up as crap in my mind.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Earth isn’t in any danger. The Earth will get on just fine. Humans may be appearing to try to kill ourselves, and take a few species with us, but Earth? Not defenseless.

  • Angel Garcia

    That’s the end of the movie dumb dumb.

  • amanohyo

    Oh, I agree that someone who blindly likes all movies starring a particular actor or by a particular director is ludicrously biased, but I’m using a broader (possibly less correct/useful) definition of the word. In addition to favoring/disliking a particular person, I’m including favoring/disliking a particular genre or type of story. You would probably call this “taste.”

    MA, for example, generally does not enjoy horror, martial arts action, or low-brow gross-out comedy flicks. However, she gives some of them an honest chance, and when she finds one that she likes, she admits it. She generally likes idea-driven sci-fi, clever moderately absurd British comedies (that’s still a genre right?), and most things Indiana Jones, Dr. Who, and Buckaroo Banzai, but is willing to be critical of them at times.

    Despite this honesty, her prejudice in favor or against these types of stories has a definite effect on her reactions. Barring the ludicrous people, your biases won’t make you rave about a complete garbage dump, but it typically moves the needle a little bit higher than it would for a someone who is completely indifferent. Who knows, your home run expectations for Anderson might be pushing the needle down relative to alternate reality you who went in fresh, never having seen Boogie Nights? Your biases have been shaped by your experiences, and those experiences are not exactly like anyone else’s.

    For example, I also despise Roman Polanski, and I’m kinda skeeved out by Woody Allen. I still think Polanski is a brilliant director and continue to admire many of his films, but I can’t really enjoy Manhattan the same way I used to. There’s not much distance between the work and the artist for Allen, so it’s impossible for me to avoid letting my bias against him affect my reaction. On the other hand, my bias improved my reaction to Blue Jasmine, because it seemed as if Allen was working through some of his feelings of guilt. There are moves that I like or dislike strongly mostly because I remember watching them with a certain person or because I associate them with a certain happy/sad moment. There are movies that I like simply because I love the lighting or camera angle in a single scene. It’s not hard to ignore your biases, it’s impossible.

  • clayjohanson

    Reading the Trivia items for this movie on IMDb, I see the following:

    “Originally titled Day 6.”

    So yeah, it definitely seems Aronofsky is referencing Biblical Creation here.

  • Mary

    Yeah, I most definitely see your point, Josh. I think it’s safe to say Aronofsky likes to push buttons, and he’s pushing a *LOT* of buttons here (smh, like all at once). I’m not sure whether I could even assign traditional terms like “good” or “bad” to something like this. Worth seeing? Eh, I’d side with yes — but only because things are left open-ended enough that viewers can project their own insights. For some, that will make the experience feel deeply personal/meaningful. For others, it will feel like a seriously effed-up, off-the-charts, puke-inducing head-trip. I think both reactions are valid, and suspect he’s maybe even using that fact in a meta way to comment on art itself.

  • Angel Garcia

    Well at one in the end she destroys us by destroying herself, so thats how that happens.

  • Angel Garcia

    Would you say the same thing if Lawrence played God and Bardem played Mother Nature? Don’t call it misogynistic, that’s just silly. He was using the commonly known personification of the natures driving force, “Mother Nature.” Plus, if Bardem is God, wouldn’t you say that God does seem neglectful towards nature as opposed to his other creation? My point overall is that Aronofsky is representing whole pure ideas as people, but you’re taking the sex of the actors too seriously.

  • Bluejay

    Would you say the same thing if Lawrence played God and Bardem played Mother Nature? […] Aronofsky is representing whole pure ideas as people, but you’re taking the sex of the actors too seriously.

    But that’s just it. A woman could have played God and a man could have played Nature, but Aronofsky chose NOT to cast them that way. The issues being symbolized don’t inherently have anything directly to do with gender; using a male/female dichotomy for his allegory is a CHOICE, which inevitably brings with it a lot of cultural baggage, whether Aronofsky likes it or not. If he had cast a white actor as God heaping horrible abuse on a black actor as Nature, there would then be a subtext about race that would also be fair game for criticism. He may merely be intending to represent “whole pure ideas,” but HOW he chooses to represent them may also send unintended cultural messages.

    And yes, God as a man and Nature as a woman are very old and common ideas — but that doesn’t mean they’re not also inherently sexist. Human cultures (though not all of them) CHOSE to represent the concept of a creator god as male, and CHOSE to represent the entire natural world as female, but that says more about how we view men and women than about the things being represented. So criticizing Aronofsky’s choice of allegory as misogynist is completely valid, I think.

  • Bluejay

    Oh, I support environmentalism. That doesn’t necessarily mean the film handles the issue well, or is free of problematic subtexts.

  • Josh Board

    That was brilliantly stated, Mary. And yeah, that’s why in my review I RELUCTANTLY gave it 1 1/2 stars.

  • Angel Garcia

    The film is based on biblical allegory however. This is even why Bardem is credited as “Him.” The bible only refers to God in male pronouns. You’re right, he ultimately made the choice to cast who he did, and that can be considered commentary on the state of the world, but a few things seem to be reaching, no? And speaking of misogyny, people are forgetting that Lawrence too had a say in this role. Aronofsky didn’t make this film alone. Is she to as well be scrutinized for her decision to be in this film for it’s misogynistic undertones, and at which point does it cease to be misogyny? Like you said, any other casting would be open to various forms of social commentary. Any rewrites in the script where mother nature is more defiant, and you lose the metaphor of Earth not being guilty of anything but wanting to exist and how it’s being neglected and abandoned by all, even its creator. So why must this end in misogyny? The sad part is that he was damned because he did and and would have been damned if he didn’t.

  • Then I don’t think he did a very good job at what he set out to do.

  • Mother Earth *is* pretty helpless and powerless, though

    Nope. All the damage we’ve done to the Earth we’ve done to the environment that supports us. The planet is going to be just fine. We are not a threat to it. We are only a threat to ourselves.

  • And then — spoiler — she dies. The planet is not going to die because of us.

  • Their intent does not rule my interpretation. That’s not how art works. Never has.

  • Bob9000

    Disgusting, revolting. The product of a seriously sick mind. WHO would fund such vile, banal garbage? WHY did it get cinema release. HOW did Australian classifiers give it only an M rating?
    Minus five out of five. All copies should be destroyed.

  • Ah, you’re sweet. But I’m good.

  • But you just suggested that my interpretation and my reaction were not valid. I’m confused…

  • Nope, not a good thing. Yup, could probably apply here.

  • Would you say the same thing if Lawrence played God and Bardem played Mother Nature?

    Obviously, I’d have to see the movie. But such casting would create an entirely different dynamic onscreen.

    Don’t call it misogynistic, that’s just silly.

    I call ’em as I see ’em.

    you’re taking the sex of the actors too seriously.

    You’re not taking the gender of the actors and how our culture treats gender anywhere near seriously enough.

  • Мишка Бортник

    I appreciate the response; I had been conflating the “life” of the planet with how hospitable it is to our species, true. I guess I can’t separate a hypothetical mass extinction event due to human action/climate change from nature dying in a way. Yes, the physical matter of Earth will be around long, long after we are gone (it’s not really living to begin with if you want to be really narrow in looking at things), and life will march on in some form as it always has.

  • The film is based on biblical allegory however.

    Biblical allegory is sexist as hell, too.

    Lawrence too had a say in this role

    Who’s forgetting anything? An actor is only part of a director’s palette. A film is not the vision of any actor who appears in it. It is the vision of the director.

    at which point does it cease to be misogyny?

    Women participate in misogyny all the damn time. Lawrence, for instance, starred in one of the most horrendously misogynist films of recent years, *Passengers.* I don’t blame *her* for that, especially considering how awful the options are for women in Hollywood. But her personal politics, whatever they may be, did not *drive* that film.

  • All copies should be destroyed.

    Well, that’s a bit extreme.

  • Мишка Бортник

    Ha! I love it :)

  • mary

    I thought Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan were total pieces of shit. I’m amazed that this clown Aronofsky is still held in any esteem. He’s a do do and this reviewer gives him way too much credit, as negative as the review may seem. Now here’s a good real life horror story http://alisablogq.blogspot.com/2017/07/dismissed-in-interests-of-justice.html

  • amanohyo

    Woah, even spambots have a bad opinion of this thing. Is that really how to spell “do do” mary? I always thought it was doodoo.

  • Bluejay

    The film is based on biblical allegory however.

    How does that excuse Aronofsky? As MaryAnn pointed out, the Bible itself is full of misogyny. It was Aronofsky’s choice to keep the misogynistic framework of the source myths.

    Like you said, any other casting would be open to various forms of social commentary.

    Yes, because art is always surrounded by social commentary. But it wouldn’t be the SAME social commentary, depending on what the art does. It doesn’t mean the artist can’t attempt to convey the message WITHOUT the misogynistic subtext. For example, an easy solution would be to have both God and Nature be played by actors of the same race and sex. Why not Cate Blanchett as God and Lawrence as Nature? That way, no single character, or the way they’re treated, would have to be the lone, stereotyped representation of their “group.”

    Any rewrites in the script where mother nature is more defiant, and you lose the metaphor of Earth not being guilty of anything but wanting to exist

    I disagree. In the recent Planet of the Apes films, Caesar and his tribe are strong, defiant characters, even sometimes violent, but there is absolutely no doubt that they are not guilty of anything except wanting to exist. It is absolutely clear that it’s the humans who are at fault and bear the responsibility for war. (In fact, now that I think of it, the Apes films are probably even better allegories for the consequences of our refusal to live in harmony with Nature.)

    Lawrence’s character could have been written as initially hospitable to visitors but pushing back strongly at every abuse, eventually killing all of them, AND SURVIVING. That doesn’t weaken the metaphor, it IMPROVES it: it says that by hurting Nature we’re only killing ourselves, and Nature will outlive us all.

    In short, there were lots of ways for Aronofsky to craft a film with the message he wanted but without the misogynistic subtext. He chose to go that route anyway, and that’s on him.

  • Beowulf

    I have only read reviews, but……
    HIM is God
    MOTHER is Mary
    MAN is Adam
    WOMAN is Eve
    WOMAN’S sons are Cain and Abel
    MOTHER’S child is Jesus…and the cult kills him and eats him. Bad things happen; HIM (God) hits “reset.”
    The wolf, man.

  • Angel Garcia

    But was that a focus on the film! When you saw what you saw, why was your focus on sexism? You nitpicked at something so minor or even possibly non existent the entire movie and all that happened was that you left angry. And the reason I bring up that Lawrence chose the role is because, to me anyways, she has seldom done anything to lead people to believe that she is anything other strong woman. So when she backs up a film like this, to a certain extent, i have to trust her based on her previous work. And maybe, although I do feel i am reaching here, what if he wanted Lawrence for the role because she is such and strong women, in the same way that we think of Gaia as strong. I’m sorry that she was submissive, but the literal imagery of humanity kicking down a women who only wanted to live in peace is amazing, and it gets the point across.

  • Bluejay

    You nitpicked at something so minor or even possibly non existent

    …for YOU. What may be invisible to you may be plainly seen by others.

    http://www.popmatters.com/review/mother-darren-aronofsky-tiff-2017-misogyny-makes-this-film-abhorrent/

  • Angel Garcia

    She makes it sound like the abuse of Lawrence’s character was for the sake of showing the abuse of women. It was not. Lawrence’s character, dressed in white the entire film to signify the purity of Mother Earth, was beaten in the same way we hurt the earth. In not mentioning that, the review became misleading, instesd making the film sound like it’s call to action was the abuse of women.

  • Bluejay

    I’m not sure if you’re referring to the review I linked to or to MaryAnn’s review, but either way, both reviews address your point. For a film to criticize misogyny (or to use misogyny as a metaphor for some other horrible thing we’re doing), it’s not enough to SHOW misogyny. That greatly runs the risk of being no different from misogyny itself.

    In contrast, look at a film like Mad Max: Fury Road. That is also a film in which the female characters are beaten, abused, and considered merely property by the misogynist society around them. Like Lawrence, the Brides are dressed in white, for purity. Their master considers them nothing but breeders, whose only purpose is to serve him and pop out babies. One of them is an expectant mother. They are, as you say of Lawrence’s character, “guilty of nothing except wanting to exist” free from abuse. But they are NOT written as doormats for abuse; they are strong, defiant, they push back, they are able to act and make decisions and alter their destiny. (And other women in the film resist and fight back as well.) The focus of the film is not just what is done TO them, but what THEY do. And this is what makes Fury Road an effective critique of misogyny rather than a demonstration of it.

  • Mary

    Interesting way to interpret my comment. To reiterate, simply sharing a polite suggestion about applying (at least) one alternate assessment angle. Which, of course, anyone is free to politely consider or dismiss.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    https://www.avclub.com/mother-earns-a-rare-semi-coveted-f-from-cinemascore-1818476876

    So one wonders, who exactly was this movie made for? Besides Angel and Mary.

  • LA Julian

    Godzilla & the other classic kaiju also symbolized Nature pushing back against humanity’s recklessness and abuses, culminating in the atom bomb, and they’re hardly helpless YET the message that we’re wreaking havoc with no real conception of the consequences of making the world potentially uninhabitable for most life forms and this is on us, no matter the innocence of the bystanders swept under in the course of it, is perfectly clear as well.

  • Russell Cramer

    And I think maybe you should watch it again. It was obvious to me without an interview. Besides the fact that he created all life from her heart and love, she couldn’t forgive the people wrecking her house, she also was trapped there and couldn’t leave while Him went outside the boundaries of the house. These off the top of my head. There’s more I assure you. What would a good job require. The director in a talk before the movie spelling it all out? I think the 9 or so allusions he made were enough, if not too much.

  • seth

    Being vague and symbolic; and saturating a film with metaphors does not make you a genius, it makes you a pretentious asshole. This movie is not some mysterious masterpiece; it’s an arrogant lecture from a self absorbed prick. The movie was lame. The metaphors were sophomoric and worn out. If you saw it and liked it, good for you. All art is subjective. So I think it’s rather pointless to make arguments over views that are totally subjective. It’s one thing to say it was great or that it sucked. It’s quite another to argue that either is wrong as to WHY it was great or as to WHY it sucked.

  • Sorry, but comments on my review of Passengers are now closed. But you can read them, if you like.

    the literal imagery of humanity kicking down a women who only wanted to live in peace is amazing

    Ugh.

  • I think Angel Garcia was referring to my comments about *Passengers.* Anyway, remember, if a movie doesn’t explicitly state it’s about a certain thing, we cannot talk about that thing in relation to the film.

  • the abuse of Lawrence’s character was for the sake of showing the abuse of women

    That’s exactly what it is.

  • I understand what you’re saying, but I still don’t see this as a good environmentalism allegory. “Mother Earth” is not and has never been a symbol of meek helplessness.

  • Bluejay

    Maybe people who WANT to discuss why a movie rocked or sucked can do so, and those with no interest in the conversation can move along and read something else. The Internet is a big place.

  • Bluejay

    Yeah, even Disney understands that. If you take the heart of Te Fiti, you have to deal with Te Ka. :-)

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xwNFss5gfXA/maxresdefault.jpg

  • Jack Brooks

    There are some filmmakers who lament audience reaction in terms of what they intended to say. But the germ idea of what could have been a potentially good movie never validates a bad film. And personally, I still wonder why vileness is categorized as “honest.” I thought Wonder Woman was pro-woman, without babies getting eaten.

  • Danielm80

    I’m starting to think this movie is a really twisted adaptation of The Giving Tree.

  • Bluejay
  • Glenn Melton

    I just wonder why people (read: Aronofsky, Jaclyn Glenn, etc.) who claim to be Atheists spend so much time and energy talking about something they say doesn’t exist (God)?

  • Bluejay

    Frankly, I’m tired of this silly argument. You don’t have to personally believe in something to be fascinated by stories about that belief. You might also be inclined to talk about something you don’t believe in if EVERYONE ELSE believes it, and you think that belief is impacting the world around you.

    (None of this is a defense of the movie, of course.)

  • Glenn Melton

    Well, when you keep making movies about God… or in Jaclyn’s case, every video you do on YouTube is about how God doesn’t exist, maybe you are fixated on God?

    The thing you say doesn’t exist… Just sayin’

  • Danielm80

    “There were a lot of influences. The Giving Tree was a big influence, actually. The film is kind of a horror version of The Giving Tree,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at mother!‘s U.S. premiere in New York earlier this week.

    He doesn’t seem to know that The Giving Tree is already a horror story. Maybe that’s the problem.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    With Aronofsky, given the particular stories he tries to riff off of, I think he’s interested in Jewish folklore, and how it informs modern mores.

  • Bluejay

    Maybe you should put that question to climate change deniers who keep saying climate change isn’t real, or evolution deniers who keep saying evolution isn’t real. Does that mean they secretly believe those things are real after all?

    But really, it’s still a silly argument. Does Rick Riordan have to worship Zeus to write the Percy Jackson books? Does JK Rowling have to believe in witchcraft to write the Harry Potter books?

    And that’s all I’ll say about this before you derail this thread. Anything you want to say about the movie?

  • Glenn Melton

    You seem offended. I’m not trying to offend you. As for what I thought about the film, great cast, terrible movie.

  • FargoUT

    Probably because atheists worry that Christianity is overall harmful to the long-term survival of earth (after all — Christians believe God will ultimately wipe humanity off the planet during an apocalypse). I’ve personally heard Christians say they don’t care about global warming, climate change, or using finite resources. Why? Because God will take care of things for us, and whatever damage we may do will be fixed (via apocalypse, I imagine).

    That’s part of this film too. It’s darkly comedic, very funny and disturbing, and IMO, possibly the best movie I’ll see in 2017. I’ve often been at polar opposites with MaryAnn’s opinion on movies, so this is nothing new. I think she’s wrong in her assessment on this one too, but I’m certainly not going to change her opinion. This is truly an artistic film, meant to be interpreted, and with that interpretation, praised or dismissed.

  • FargoUT

    Quite possibly the best film I’ll see in 2017, full of utter insanity, but hey, that’s life.

    A darkly comical condemnation of humanity and its stewardship of the planet, a literal representation of the Biblical stories of Genesis to Revelations, a criticism of the creative artist using and then tossing their loved ones in search of fame and fortune, a rebuke of celebrity and celebrity culture, and a sharp argument against the misogyny of men who treat women as “less than”. There are different layers to this, and I loved it. I think it will be the source of numerous film school essays in the future.

    5 out of 5 stars. One of the year’s best.

  • Radek Piskorski

    I felt absolute no sympathy for Barden’s Him. I think it’s clear the film makes no attempt to paint him in a positive light. He’s abusive and comes across as crazy.

  • Radek Piskorski

    He didn’t? I got she was mother earth very early on. Especially since he was so clear by the time he was making Noah that he reads the Bible in environmental terms.

  • Radek Piskorski

    She burned the house down.

  • Radek Piskorski

    At the end of the world – apocalypse – the planet *is* going to die. The character even used the word apocalypse. I think the destruction of the house is the end of the world.

  • Radek Piskorski

    But can’t films depict negative things AS negative? Are war films all defending war?

  • will

    Yeah Dud, believing women are actual human beings who deserve to be represented as human beings is TOTALLY a biased. Unlike your implicit and obvious contention that women exist for the use of men.

  • will

    Oh Noos! Are you telling me that Darren Aronofsky has no idea what feminism actually is? That his use and abuse of women in his films is something he rationalizes in his solipsistic little mind as respectful of women? I mean, a male narcissist who presumes to know better than women ABOUT women just. does. not. exist. …amiright?

    Of course, if this guy IS feminist (and all of those foundational texts by feminist scholars are wrong), we’d best tell the workers at the women’s shelters, rape crises centres, those lobbying for equal pay and fighting sex trafficking that they should pipe down and learn from the rich mind that brought us Black Swan with its hackneyed madonna/whore-ism and that enlightening gang-rape scene in Requiem for a Dream! So much feminist insight!!!

  • MidxMidwest

    #WhiteKnight

  • Bluejay
  • Thomas Smith

    I thought this was a film about Sigmund Freud. Wait maybe it is…

  • MidxMidwest

    #VirtueSignal

    Nice community, MaryAnn.

  • LaSargenta

    Oh. Good. Grief. You can’t be bothered reading the “About” page?!

    She doesn’t miss it, it is a fundamental part of this site. The way you complain about it like you’re the only one brave enough to point it out just exposes you as someone who doesn’t bother doing the mere modicum of research.

    Guess you have no self-respect since you like making yourself look like a fool.

  • LaSargenta

    No, it is the destruction of our house. The rest of the world will continue. It may have to change. Some species will be gone, but, best of all, we will be gone. We shat in our own bed and we deserve to be gone.

  • LaSargenta

    Bingo.

  • Bluejay

    Hahaha! More MRA buzzwords. What’s next, #SafeSpaces? #Snowflake? I’m surprised you haven’t used #SJW yet, or is that passé? Bring on whatever hashtag ad hominems you want. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re making stupid-ass antifeminist statements and being called out for it.

  • MidxMidwest

    There’s zero in her “About” page, nor her “biasts” that say anything along the lines of, “I’m a devout feminist, and if a film portrays a woman as anything less that a fully-formed paragon, I’m going to give it a negative review.”

    Or maybe I’m totally missing it. Here’s the “About” copy:

    “I’m MaryAnn Johanson: writer and ponderer from New York City now living in London who thinks way too much about such inconsequences as movies, TV, books, and the meaning of life.

    I founded FlickFilosopher.com in September 1997, which means it’s one of the oldest film sites on the Web. It has been operating continually since then.”

    Is there some kind of feminist dog-whistle that I missed in there?

    And btw, feminist film theory is a thing, and if a critic wants to use that lens, go for it. It’s simply disingenuous to ignore that bias, then claim that you put your biases on full display for the benefit of the reader.

  • MidxMidwest

    #BasicAF

  • Bluejay

    #AskingToBeBanned

    #GoodRiddance

  • LaSargenta

    On the About page, there’s a link labeled “minifesto”, I believe. Since you didn’t want to click, here’s the link: minifesto

  • Because so many other people who DO think God exists won’t shut up about him.

    Because whether you believe in it or not, it’s indisputable that Judeo-Christian mythology has had and continues to have a huge impact on our culture.

    These are not difficult concepts to grasp. Except I’m guessing you probably think you’ve made an argument in favor of the existence of God. (This is something that atheists hear constantly. You haven’t found a fresh gotcha. Sorry.)

  • Bluejay

    IGNORING that lens? You’re hilarious. Like she hasn’t recently just posted this, on top of countless other openly feminist posts over the years, including her long-running Where Are The Women? project.

    You simply have no idea what you’re talking about. GTFO.

  • “Mother Earth” and Judeo-Christianity are opposing mythologies. If Aronofsky wanted to make a movie about that opposition, he should have done that. If you believe in the Bible, then you do not personify our planet and you do not believe it has any independent existence. If Lawrence is supposed to be Earth, there is nothing of a “Mother Nature” feel to her. Mother Earth or Mother Nature or Gaia or whatever you want to call it/her is a figure of power. There is no way you can call Lawrence’s character anything approaching that.

  • And…?

  • LaSargenta

    Actually, although I really shouldn’t have taken the time from work to do this, I reread several things and, well, no, the explicit feminist statement appears to no longer be where I remember it appearing. I’ve been a reader and subscriber for a very long time here and do remember there being a banner statement about the feminist basis of much of FlickFilosophers’ worldview. Not surprising, as the author, curator and host is a woman dealing with all that being a woman entail in the working world.

    On this site, the feminism has never been hidden. She recently posted this … Another Thread about Feminism … You want to fight about this, head over to that thread. Seems fairly pointless though. Kinda like if you came into my house and complained I had painted the living room wall lapis blue and that I have a cat. It is here, it isn’t going anywhere; if you are allergic, don’t visit.

  • the planet *is* going to die.

    But not because of anything humans do, at least not with our current level of technology. The most we can do today is make the planet uninhabitable for ourselves. And then the cockroaches take over, and maybe in 10 million years the Earth gets intelligent upright rats.

  • But can’t films depict negative things AS negative?

    Of course they can! But this one does not. It finds Lawrence’s suffering far too sexy, for one.

    Are war films all defending war?

    There have been arguments made that even “anti-war” films make war seem exciting.

  • This kind of crap will get you nowhere here.

  • It is, in fact. And you’ve just told us that you believe kindness and decency and respect is just a ploy people use for their own selfish reasons. Best leave now.

  • Bluejay

    There have been arguments made that even “anti-war” films make war seem exciting.

    That was Milton’s problem — trying to write a devout, religious epic about the Fall that somehow winds up having the Devil as the sexiest, most fascinating character.

    “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” — William Blake

  • Glenn Melton

    I’m not making an argument either way. My question is, if you don’t believe in something, why spend all your time trying to disprove it? What does an Atheist care if someone believes in God… if he doesn’t exist? Or in the case of Aronofsky, twisting biblical stories. Seems like a terrible way to spend your energy… unless you just get a kick out of sticking your tongue out at Christians and saying “LOOK HOW I MAKE A MOCKERY OF YOUR BELIEF!!! NEENER NEENER NEENER!”

    And an argument that, “Well, Christians want to force their beliefs on everyone else!”, is “silly”. Rise above, man, rise above.

    That other user mentioned something along the lines of, does the author of Harry Potter have to believe in wizards to write the Harry Potter books… I don’t know… and I’m pretty sure that she isn’t writing them as pushback to the religion of Wizards and she’s not trying to disprove or PROVE that wizards exist or don’t exist.

    I’m sorry I came here and ruffled everyone’s feathers asking a question.

  • Bluejay

    My question is, if you don’t believe in something, why spend all your time trying to disprove it?

    Wow. It’s almost like you didn’t read any of the responses already posted.

    And an argument that, “Well, Christians want to force their beliefs on everyone else!”, is “silly”.

    I take it you don’t read the news (or study history) either. Fascinating.

  • Danielm80

    Joss Whedon is an atheist. He writes about religion all the time. I think he does it, in part, because it gives him compelling imagery to work with, and because it plays a significant role in the mythology of the vampires he writes about.

    It also provides interesting premises for a science-fiction and fantasy writer, like: What, technically speaking, is a soul, and how does it function?

    And writing about religion allows him to deal with really important issues: What does it mean to be a good person? Can you do it if you’ve rejected the institutions that define what a “good person” is? How does someone create a personal system of beliefs, and is that a harmful thing to do?

    As other folks have said, religion has helped to create a lot of the structures of our society, and if you want to write about the way society works, religion is often a great place to start.

  • Glenn Melton

    I just wanted to return to tell you specifically, thank you, for responding to my question in a non condescending way.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    ¿Por qué no los dos?

  • MidxMidwest

    Which one of these states the strict feminist lens as one of her biases? I’ll wait.

  • MidxMidwest

    Her character is Sophia. It’s another one of AF’s Gnostic films, like Noah.

  • Bluejay

    Already addressed. But feel free to keep being obtuse.

  • will

    Oh dear. Are you going to keep me out of the tree fort?

    #regulatingmasculinity
    #predictablebore

  • LaSargenta

    Bueno, pues si. Es possible. Tambien, el tiene una mania. El es muy circa de un chalado.

  • LaSargenta

    Look, I already addressed this: https://www.flickfilosopher.com/2017/09/mother-movie-review-wtf-stfu.html#comment-3524799586 I didn’t want to erase this comment in case you had already stared answering it and, besides, I don’t like to erase things, even if I’ve been wrong unless they are dangerously wrong.

    I’d like to quote a bit of that comment I linked:

    Kinda like if you came into my house and complained I had painted the living room wall lapis blue and that I have a cat. It is here, it isn’t going anywhere; if you are allergic, don’t visit or make sure you’ve taken the correct dose of antihistamine.

    You seem really, really upset about this. I can’t console you as reading feminist takes on films actually makes me feel better about the world, makes me feel a little less alone with my reactions to this aspect of pop culture.

  • Bluejay

    I think we keep glossing over this part of his comment, which seems to be the crux of his argument:

    There’s zero in her “About” page, nor her “biasts” that say anything along the lines of, “I’m a devout feminist, and if a film portrays a woman as anything less that a fully-formed paragon, I’m going to give it a negative review.”

    Which of course is a strawman of ridiculous proportions, easily refuted by checking out reviews as recent as Ingrid Goes West or Landline or The Midwife or Colossal, all films about flawed women. Feminism is about seeing women as REAL people, not PERFECT ones.

    Of course, I won’t hold my breath waiting for him to acknowledge this.

  • LaSargenta

    Yer right, I have been missing that. Some part of my brain wasn’t registering it…probably because it is ridiculous.

  • if a film portrays a woman as anything less that a fully-formed paragon, I’m going to give it a negative review.

    Why on Earth would I say that? It wouldn’t be true… and the barest look at my recent reviews would prove it isn’t the case.

    Seriously, do you need to be told that a woman considers women to be human?

  • What does an Atheist care if someone believes in God… if he doesn’t exist?

    Atheists DON’T care if someone believes in God. Atheists DO care when the God-believers think they can impose their God-belief on the rest of us.

    And an argument that, “Well, Christians want to force their beliefs on everyone else!”, is “silly”. Rise above, man, rise above.

    How is it “silly”? Rise above it? Fuck that shit. When (for just one example) the God-botherers want control over my body, because I’m a woman, I am not going to “rise above it.” Are you for real? Or are you just privileged enough that you’re not impacted by others’ religious beliefs?

    ruffled everyone’s feathers

    Oh, you haven’t. We’re just utterly unimpressed by your unoriginal “argument.”

  • Her character is Sophia

    Citation needed.

  • smallmadness

    So, I didn’t get the biblical references, but I got some other ones. Here was my immediate reaction to this film on FB, “So, not scary in the traditional sense. Basically, a metaphor for motherhood–and being a woman in general–wherein sacrificing yourself for a man is the unspoken horror. Especially if you’re with a creative man (Bardem’s character is a poet) who uses his personal life as fodder for his art and also to feed his ego. Sounds about right. Aronofsky basically revealing himself. The poet character is also so reasonable sounding no matter how weird s*** gets, as these dudes often are. It’s also the classic nightmare of an introvert and new mothers everywhere. I saw a clear allusion to “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Giving Tree” and the concept of gaslighting and the clear lack of boundaries in modern society. Two women walked out before the movie was over. Wouldn’t watch it again, I don’t think, but worth a gander. Found the things it had to say about women sort of problematic. I’d love for another woman who has watched this to give me feedback!” So now I’ve found another woman who watched this movie and saw the misogyny in it. (I toned it down to “problematic” in my FB review). After watching this movie, I felt intensely sorry for Rachel Weisz and Jennifer Lawrence for dating this guy. He must be insufferable to date (at first, I’m sure he’s great and makes you think–gee, this guy is so intense and intelligent–until you realize what a self-absorbed git he is). Aronofsky’s not a total loss as an artist or a human being I don’t think, but yeah, Mother is head-scratching, self-indulgent shit, a lot like M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water was. I also, frankly, felt like his script could have used a lot of work. The first half was a somewhat effective psychological horror movie (my “introvert” comment above is basically my visceral reaction to watching Man and Woman invading Mother’s personal space), but then abruptly turned into that insanity at the end that completely erased the tension. As I told my husband on the way home, no real mother (I have two kids) would have EVER let that man near my baby. That baby scene is when the two women left the theater. Other than that, the fact that Aronofsky feels the need to “explain” the supposed central conceit of his film now because the “sheeple” won’t understand it points to the fact that this movie doesn’t understand itself. According to him, he wrote an ecological allegory, and according to me–and also Maryann–and also, probably, lots of other viewers (mostly women, I’m guessing), it’s a lot more revealing about Aronofsky than any other movie he’s ever done and guess what? It’s not very flattering. I wonder if Weisz saw this movie and recognized herself in Lawrence’s character? And if so, Lawrence herself is the new incarnation at the end of the movie. And since this is a cycle, it’s going to keep happening until she and Aronofsky break up. Because women are interchangeable. And all the floor vagina, weird orange powder, and other details are really just red herrings. This movie to me, ultimately, is on two levels: a metaphor for heterosexual relationships and creativity (I also wrote on my FB page the U2 quote, ‘Every artist is a cannibal/Every poet is a thief/All kill their inspiration/And sing about their grief”) and a larger one about the destructiveness of patriarchy. Sorry, this is really long. But I really appreciated your review, Maryann. Off to donate now. Thanks!

  • Glenn Melton

    It was not an argument, I simply asked a simple question.

    You people apparently don’t like it when someone ask a question.

    It’s cool though, don’t worry I won’t be on your little circle-jerk forum anymore.

  • Jessica Hanson

    MILD SPOILERS:

    I saw the film last night. The fact that I was so infuriated by how Lawrence was treated was indicative of the mirror this film held up to my face, and the many other faces of people who defile beautiful planet Earth. In addition to the environmental message, the film calls out religious fanatics and false prophets (wolves in sheeps clothing if you will). It does not present religion in a positive light. The scene with Kristen Wiig performing extrajudicial killings in the name of god (Bardem), and the scene where the baby was eaten for the sake of “forgiveness” are just a couple of scenes where this is evident.

    I’m not saying you’re objectively wrong. I’m just saying that my anger towards this film came from another place — one that is definitely angry with those who abuse planet Earth and pass judgement with a belief system that is regressive and not based on evidence.

    Loved the movie. I agree, and disagree with you. Cheers!

  • Bluejay

    It was not an argument, I simply asked a simple question.

    Yeah, you asked the same question three times, ignored the answers that were repeatedly given, claimed that Aronofsky merely wanted to mock religious people, and said we should “rise above” complaints about Christians enforcing their beliefs on others. That’s not a question, that’s an argument. And it’s used against atheists all the time, by religious people who think they’re oh-so-clever and think that that single question can stump atheists into silence. Maybe you asked that question out of the genuine curiosity of your pure untouched innocent heart. But I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t take your word for it.

  • Glenn Melton

    Yeah, you figured me out! I was sitting around all weekend trying to devise the ultimate question to stump Atheists with… who knew that I had stumbled into the ONE question that has been a thorn in an Atheist’s side for so long??! Foiled again!

    First of all, you specifically have been nothing but hostel towards me since I first posted, in fact there has been a general hostility towards me throughout.

    Second, you are assuming I am “religious”. Are “religious” people the only people that might wonder what I asked?

    Thirdly, if you can’t “rise above” something that doesn’t align with your belief, then that’s on you.

  • Bluejay

    you are assuming I am “religious”.

    You’re right, I’m assuming you believe in a god. If I’m wrong, you can correct me right now. So, do you?

    if you can’t “rise above” something that doesn’t align with your belief, then that’s on you.

    And once again, you’re ignoring or willfully misunderstanding what’s already been said to you, not just by me but by MaryAnn and other commenters. (Specifically: Atheists don’t have a problem with other people’s beliefs. We have a problem when they try to turn those beliefs into laws and actions that affect the lives of ALL people. And that’s not just “on us.”) The only thing you did was thank one commenter for being polite, but you never really responded to his points either. If you’re just going to keep hammering away at your one talking point without engaging with the responses, then what’s the point? Maybe it’s best if you DO leave our “little circle-jerk forum,” though I notice you still haven’t.

  • amanohyo

    There’s a line I never thought I’d read: “…Kristen Wiig performing extrajudicial killings in the name of god…” Welcome to Turrgit! The more comments I read, the more I both want to and don’t want to watch this. It’s weird, when I think back on all of Aronofsky’s films, I remember liking some of them at the time, but I lack any strong associated emotions or memories. Your comment made me realize why – his movies are tragic, didactic anti-morality plays. As with Hawthorne’s short stories, the focus is on the plot and the “lesson,” rather than the characters.

    If this film criticizes religion, it’s ironic that the symbolist storytelling methods Aronofsky favors are also favored by the organizations he condemns. I generally prefer an in-depth examination of the idiosyncrasies of an ordinary person to the overblown tragedy of grand cyphers beating me over the head with Essential Human Truth. On the other hand, I also dislike authors who burrow into their own core instead of exploring the boundaries of their personalities (Sofia Coppola and Charlie Kaufman come to mind). I get enough navel gazing and mental masturbation at home, so it’s tedious when artists claim to have discovered an important element of humanity while wallowing comfortably in a perspective limited by massive privilege.

    A lot of the time, these two qualities are not present in the same work. It’s difficult to burrow into your own experience without mining some unique characterization – Woody Allen’s movie are all about him, but he’s a weird guy, so you’d never call the characters in his better films abstract symbols or moral caricatures. The problem I think is that most of Aronofsky’s weirdness is visual instead of narrative (ditto with S. Coppola). He has some unique images in his head, but no interesting, developed ideas, so his mental masturbation is boring to a viewer who is attracted to detailed characterization and nuanced, complex ideas, and profound to a viewer who has a taste for visceral imagery, grand prophetic visions, and broadly spiritual human truths. I could be completely wrong, because obviously I haven’t seen this yet, but thank you for the comment. Lawrence and Bardem have the chops to inject some humanity into their symbolic flesh puppets, so I’ll take you and FargoUT at your words and give it a chance when it shows up at the library.

  • Or, instead of asking a question that is a derailing tangent, you could try Googling. Here, I’ll get you started:

    https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-atheists-talk-so-much-about-these-gods-they-dont-believe-in

    Unless you were just trying to troll with some whataboutery. That doesn’t impress us either.

  • As many people are saying about this movie: Male filmmakers need to find better ways to get their ideas across that don’t involve abusing women.

  • MidxMidwest
  • From that link:

    She gives birth to a bunch of bad boys, demigods called archons, including the worst of them all, the demiurge who becomes the creator of this world

    So the Bardem character is her son? Ewww.

    Sophia remains present, and in her resurgent power she brings great beauty and spiritual potential to the earthly realm and its inhabitants.

    Funny how Aronofsky chose not to depict that.

  • Kate

    She doesn’t die. She WANTS to die — she asks Him to “let me go,” to let all of it go. But he can’t. He re-creates it all, just as he did at the start of the film, just as he will do over and over again, even though every time it ends in apocalypse. He is a narcissistic, egotistical asshole who lusts for adulation, and that adulation eventually destroys all he has created. So ultimately, God creates and his creations bring it all down. Without God, people might have had a chance, but without God, they wouldn’t exist. It’s a paradox.

  • amanohyo

    This is really three separate movies. Here’s how I would describe the first act: Imagine your AP English class is wrapping up a unit on symbolism in horror movies, and the smartest boy in class, a huge Fellini fan, read the Cliff notes for The Yellow Wallpaper and The Old Testament then made a student film in a week with his girlfriend. At first, you’re impressed. “Wow, this is really awesome for the first work of such a young director!” you think. “The camera work and sound design are fantastic. The writing could use some work, but it’s clearly stream of consciousness, so I shouldn’t be too harsh.”

    Then we enter act two: Imagine this precocious high-schooler watched the first half of Rosemary’s Baby, read the Giving Tree, and firmly refused to cut any of the footage he shot for his second student film. “Hmm, the biblical symbolism is getting kind of heavy handed, and there really isn’t a need for all this dead space and repetition, but maybe he has something interes… – oh, wait he’s saying that male artists are creators like God is a creator, and female muses suffer like Mother Earth suffers because they don’t get enough attention and love that’s… kind of well-worn ground at this point, but I’ll hang in there, maybe he’s going to subvert these hoary cliches in the finale and this Mother character will grow a personality and a set of ovaries.”

    And then we hit act three: The talented youth has just watched Children of Men and he really really hates the way paparazzi bug his girlfriend all the time. Also symbolically eating Jesus and rubbing ashes on each other is so crazy, right? Religious people, am I right? War is terrible right? By the way, the reason that artistic men go through so many girlfriends is because artists are consumed by their passion for their art and their fans. But the Earth muse really gets the last laugh if you think about it, kind of but not really right? Think about it. “Well,” you think, “the second act drug on too long, and the third act was a grab bag of transparent symbolism, hammy dialogue, redundant abuse, and noisy distraction, but he’s just a kid, and the camera work is so good. It’s all new and fresh for him now. He’ll get better.” Then you realize that this is the seventh feature film of a 48 year old man, and any residual glow from the first act immediately fades. I will say Aronofsky’s right when he claims this a feminist film, if we traveled to the late 19th century and showed it to Perkins Gilman, I’m sure she’d agree.

    The last act was so terrible, I had second thoughts about his entire body of work. Maybe I was just distracted by the visuals and Black Swan, Noah, and Requiem were just as awful as this? No, no, they couldn’t have been this bad… could they? Lawrence does a remarkable job with the smorgasbord of suffering she’s served, but Bardem struggles in vain against the laughably pretentious dialogue of the final minutes of the film failing to wrangle it into anything remotely Godly or human-like (if he couldn’t manage it, there aren’t many who could).

    This is one of those movies that’s so bad by the end that you start imagining alternate scenes to amuse yourself. I got a few giggles imagining Mother bursting into her room to discover Bardem in the throes of ecstasy madly humping the bloody floor vagina. If you get desperate, it helps to imagine Wiig exclaiming “fantastic! I love those!” in her Target Lady voice at the end of all her lines. One could even imagine looping the “staying awake contest” a couple more times until Bardem’s fixed expression of endurance becomes even more absurdly hilarious. As with It (the other half of my double feature), this has a promising beginning that quickly drops in quality until the regular plateaus of ever more hysterical spectacle in the finale become predictable and boring. I can’t even call this an ambitious failure due to its retrograde gender politics and deep as a puddle biblical symbolism. It is a deeply personal failure that sucks in a way that few modern mainstream movies manage to do. That’s something to be proud of I guess?

  • She doesn’t die.

    I think this is hard to back up based on what we see onscreen. It’s a different woman who wakes up in the bed at the end of the film. The implication is that this is a cycle that keeps repeating, but that “mother” has no idea that that is the case. Otherwise the Lawrence character would not be so dumbfounded by what happens.

    Without God, people might have had a chance, but without God, they wouldn’t exist.

    But only if you believe humanity was created by a deity.

  • Kate

    I didn’t get that it was a different woman at the end (it looked like the exact same scene that began the film — she even says “Baby” in exactly the same way). But if it’s a different woman, then that does change things.

    As for the God thing, it’s not what I believe, but it seems to be part of what the film is saying. It’s a god who’s narcissistic, thriving on adulation. But he’s also invincible (he’s the only thing that isn’t destroyed when everything blows up). He does create the world he inhabits, but he is also the cause of its ultimate demise. And the film suggests that he does this over and over again.

    I’m not sure what I think of this film. It’s interesting, but that might be all it is. Maybe I’ll see it again (but maybe not!).

  • seth

    I agree 100%. After all, that’s what I was doing…Elaborating on WHY I didn’t like it. What I meant to say was that someone’s “why” for liking or not liking it, can not be used as an argument against someone else’s “why”. If you liked the movie, I would HOPE you gave me reasons to as to WHY you liked it. But when your reasons for “why” you liked it, serve as an attempt to discredit or criticize “why” I hated it, then at that point it becomes nothing more than an exercise in futility. It becomes a circular vortex in which no one can be factually proved right or wrong and is a waste of time in the end. That was my point.

  • seth

    And yes, you can do JUST THAT. And I did. I told you why I thought it was garbage. But I never sat here and tried to convince the people who loved the movie that they were somehow WRONG for loving the movie. I just love these people who criticize anyone who didn’t like this trash by saying “ohhh..you just didn’t get it”. The people who love this movie are SO intellectually superior to the simpletons who can’t translate metaphors, can’t recognize or appreciate symbolism, and definitely do not get or understand nuance. Fuck your metaphors. Fuck the symbolism. Fuck your nuance. And fuck you. Shitty dumb fucking movie. Period.

  • seth

    Quit being such a faggot. The planet is FINE you self absorbed, self righteous, self centered egomaniac. The planet has been around for over 4 BILLION years moron. And as the great George Carlin once wrote, “the Earth has survived polar shifts, breaking of continents, hundreds of ice ages, warming periods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcano eruptions, floods, tornadoes, droughts, wild fires, and millions upon millions of years of bombardment by asteroids, meteors, cosmic rays and solar fares…yet you actually think that HUMANS who have only been engaged in industry for less than 200 years is going to make a difference to this planet over 4 billion years of age? The Earth will shake us humans off like a bad case of fleas” -George Carlin

  • seth

    You are abusing others with your ignorance and stupidity. Google “Vostok Ice Core samples”.

  • seth

    Global warming?? How do you explain the CO2 levels during Jurassic times which were not 400ppm, but in the 1,000’s? There were no humans around 60 MILLION years ago. Furthermore, it’s common knowledge that the Earth has gone through dozens of “Ice Ages”. Some of these ice ages occurred before humans began engaging in heavy industry, while the majority of these ice ages occurred before humans were even on the planet. What caused these ice ages? What caused the climate to CHANGE so much that nearly the whole planet turned to ice? Then, what caused the planet to change so much that ALL that ice melted? This cycle has happened over and over and over and over for MILLIONS/BILLIONS of years…way before humans existed. You can’t blame even the LAST ice and the melting of the last ice age on SUV’S, coal, or fossil fuels. That’s because it occurred way before the industrial revolution. Yes, climate change IS real. The climate is ALWAYS changing. It’s been happening for BILLIONS of years. CO2 has a minor effect on weather, temperature, and the environment. Water vapor is the main greenhouse gas. Quit parroting things you have heard and actually research it for yourself.

  • seth

    You “have heard” that Christians don’t believe in global warming, finite resources, etc. What is truly disturbing is that you are generalizing and stereotyping over a billion Christians based on “What you have HEARD”. That’s not only ignorant, that’s the very definition of bigotry. Quit being a bigot. Quit stereotyping and making generalizations about billions of people; implying that they all have the same beliefs about anthropogenic climate change. That’s mass bigotry and mass stupidity.

  • I didn’t get that it was a different woman at the end

    It’s a different actor! It’s the same scene but it’s not Lawrence who has just woken up.

    it seems to be part of what the film is saying.

    There’s no indication in the film that Him created all his fans. Or even the entire world around them. The film is clearly NOT a perfect analogy for Judeo-Christian mythology or the Old Testament, so I don’t think we should assume anything related to that that we don’t see in the film.

  • Kate

    I don’t think the film is entirely successful in its allegory (and no, it’s in no way “perfect”), but there are too many specific details (Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, plus all the flash-references to Judeo-Christian history). For me, the film attacks both humanity (for the violence, selfishness, and greed that has plagued us from the start) and religion (since this version of “God” cares only about himself). And the link between religion and the fall of humanity is also there (whether intended or not).

    As to whether Him (or God) created all of his fans, I don’t see any other explanation. When everything blows up, only Him survives. He will recreate it all (thus the repeat of the opening scene). I can’t believe I didn’t get the different actor playing the new “mother” — I guess I expected her to be the same (when Jennifer Lawrence’s burned-out body begs Him to “let me go,” it did have the feel of someone who’s been through this countless times and just wants it all to end).

    No, it’s not a perfect movie — but at least there’s something in it worth talking about.

  • I totally disagree with the reviewer’s assessment of this film. And before anyone jumps up and down for specifics, they will come in my review that will be out in a day or so. I thought it was a masterpiece. This is my body, eat. This is my blood, drink. This movie had the brass balls of audacity that keeps the audience riveted. I think a lot of people hate this movie, but for all the wrong reasons. It certainly was not a ZERO grade movie, that is absurd.

    Gen. 4:10 The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

    Regards, Goat from Ruthless Reviews.

  • When everything blows up, only Him survives.

    Does “everything” blow up, or only the house? What happens beyond the field around the house? We have absolutely no idea.

  • Kate

    You’re right — we have no idea whether everything blows up at the end of the movie, or only the house (but it’s pretty clear that ALL of the people who were there are gone; and these people clearly represented centuries of human history). The film is entirely representational — these are not real people.

    It doesn’t totally work, but it’s intriguing.

  • Awesome Welles

    Btw, most of the aicn guys are over at The Man Who Saved Movies now. Just FYI.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Pretty sure the human protagonists in the movie – him & mother – were anthropomorphisms, and not to be taken literally as a ‘human male’ or ‘human female’. And besides, ‘he’ was one with all of his creation anyway. Hence the reason for his impartiality/empathy towards everything going on. From this transcendent perspective, there were no perpetrators, no victims. But from an individual ego / human perspective, there was. However they were all a dream in the mind of the creator, quite like our nightly dreams are a dream in our creative minds when we sleep. It’s only upon waking up (dying) that we realize we weren’t the individual in the dream looking out at the world, we were the entire dream – none other than the creator. Likewise, all the characters and all that was and that happened in the house (World/Universe) was in the mind of the creator – ie one with it (ie Him, in this case, as an anthropomorphism). So we can look at it from our human perspective, that there is suffering and misery in the world and that we are going to destroy ourselves in the end, or we can look at it from the transcendent perspective, that fundamentally, we are the Creator in essence and all is well, despite surface appearances.

  • Leslie

    This review is nonsense, if you don’t understand a movie and what references are in it just do some research before posting something online. You clearly didn’t get any of it.

  • Pretty sure the human protagonists in the movie – him & mother – were anthropomorphisms, and not to be taken literally as a ‘human male’ or ‘human female’.

    And it’s pure, random coincidence that they just so happen to slot perfectly into stereotypes about men and women? Got it.

    From this transcendent perspective, there were no perpetrators, no victims.

    This sounds like something that Harvey Weinstein will tell his therapist. Or perhaps his defense attorney.

  • Oh, please enlighten us with your wisdom, oh researchingest one!

  • Damien Mckinnon

    You are investing way too much time focusing on some superficial layer of the movie (which only you seem to see). It’s far deeper and more profound than you are capable of comprehending whilst your blinkers are on, and it’s unfortunate that you’re unable to take them off. Plato’s allegory of the cave comes to mind… Clearly anyone wishing to have an intelligent and meaningful discussion on your website are wasting their time. Good day

  • You think the gender dynamics of this movie are “superficial,” and only I am seeing them? Hilarious.

    Why don’t you enlighten us as to all the deep profundity that I am missing?

  • Bluejay

    As far as I can tell, his argument is that we only see misery and suffering because of our “human perspective” (as if we could have any other); but from the “transcendent perspective” it becomes clear that “all is well, despite surface appearances.” Because just like it’s okay when we have a bad dream because it turns out we’re the dreamer, therefore misogyny and violence and bigotry are okay because… we’re the ones responsible for it? Okay then.

    There’s also something distastefully privileged about the idea that human suffering is trivial and petty, and that we should stop caring about it and focus on some bigger picture. If anything, it’s a direct inversion of Carl Sagan’s “cosmic perspective.” Sagan argued that seeing the bigger picture – of the Earth as a pale blue dot, fragile and unique in an uncaring universe – should inspire us to treat each other BETTER, not wallow in complacency at the world’s problems.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    I did, in my first post.

    Oh and as an aside, re your earlier remark that Mother Earth and Judeo-Christianity are opposing mythologies, it is in fact well established that Christianity has pagan roots and is a conglomeration of several mythologies/religions.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    And I will add to Bluejays comment by saying that the transcendent perspective I alluded to in the movie needn’t infer intolerance, indifference or complacency toward human suffering and misery. On the contrary, correctly understood it should promote compassion and lead to an enrichment of our human experience. For instance, understanding the monster in my dream as an aspect of myself as opposed to an evil “other” leads me to empathize with the monster and accept it, as opposed to my initial reaction to either flee or kill it. Quite like ‘him’ in the movie embracing all of his creation – including the bad, the horrifying, etc.

    Having this perspective certainly doesn’t numb one to the troubles and suffering in the world, nor should it lead to a feeling of loneliness and insignificance in an infinite Universe. Rather, it places each and every one of us at our very own unique ‘centre’ of the drama, instilling a sense of responsibility and an inclination to act for the betterment of the planet and humanity.

  • Bluejay

    Well, I’m glad you’re not arguing for complacency, but I was actually critical of your initial comment. “No perpetrators, no victims” is pointless philosophizing, because in the real world — and at the level of human values with which we HAVE to engage, being humans ourselves — of course there ARE perpetrators and victims. A “sense of responsibility and an inclination to act for the betterment of the planet and humanity” requires that we criticize wrongdoing (including our own), call out the wrongdoers, and seek justice for those who are wronged. Which is exactly what MaryAnn is doing when she criticizes the cultural misogyny that is the context in which this film exists. It’s hardly the “superficial layer” you claim, and perhaps before you accuse others of being blinkered you should interrogate your own certainty that you aren’t blinkered in some ways yourself.

    As for empathy: trying to understand perpetrators and wrongdoers is fine, but it shouldn’t lessen how fiercely we call them out. It’s true that the misogynists and white supremacists and sexual predators who poison our world aren’t incomprehensible alien monsters; they’re human beings with all-too-human motives, and understanding their behavior should lead us to understand and monitor our own. But understanding them should not lead us to EXCUSE them, or to make allowances for their behavior, or even to argue for compassion for the aggressors when the balance of power has long been in their favor. What good will it do us to “embrace” Harvey Weinstein or “accept” Bill Cosby (or for that matter Trump), on some “transcendent” plane in which there are “no perpetrators, no victims”? Embracing and accepting them is what led us to turn a blind eye to their predations in the first place! To refuse to stand with the women who have been abused by these men wielding enormous power (granted to them by a society built on centuries of misogyny and patriarchy) is itself a monstrous injustice, and it seems to me an incredible feat of self-deception not to see it.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Pointless philosophizing? What do you expect – I was pondering the possible implications of an allegoric tale, not analyzing a court case. The comment was in relation to how “him” saw things, since he was God & all that was in the house.

    No, we shouldn’t walk around with our head in the clouds, but what if we are all connected? What if we are all responsible for the way the world is? What if we each play every single role/character in the drama over an eternity? (As implied when the whole house comes back to life & Jennifer Lawrence’s character is now played by a different actor) Have we been the misogynist, the rapist, the Saint, the cancer riddled child before? Is it our materialistic way of life & misguided metaphysical assumptions about ourselves and nature that is causing problems? Look at our consumeristic pursuits, our view of the planet as a resource generator to provide our entertainment and financial gain. Our treatment of minorities, other races, women (as you keep mentioning). Are our individual issues collectively attributing to the cultural mental illness, that we are literally breeding the evil in the world? Why do we keep projecting blame onto others and not look at ourselves?

    Maybe these are philosophical ponderings, but isn’t that the point of a thought-provoking movie? To stand back from our usual ego-centric thought patterns & look at life/existence from a wider perspective? Could that not have been Darren Aronofsky’s real intent – to make us think critically – as opposed to deliberately encode misogynistic propaganda throughout the movie in order to drive-home and further promote the oppression and vilification of women as yourself & MaryAnn seem to believe? I think it was quite clear that Aronofsky was holding a mirror up to the audience & demanding we take a hard look at ourselves, and he did so quite masterfully (albeit confrontingly) at that. To totally ignore this, basically call him a misogynist and carelessly give the movie 0/5 stars is a complete and utter disgrace.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    And as far as “accepting” the monster in my dream, I’m not talking about accepting the violent acts it has committed and letting it roam free! I’m talking about accepting that it is a mentally confused and scared aspect of myself, which is only acting from it’s misguided understanding of the world. If I can somehow see part of the monster in myself, I can work towards helping it. It will still need to be isolated, but isolated with the goal to help transform it’s understanding. By transforming the monster, I transform myself. By the same token, through seeing the evil in the world as products of our own mental confusion and by working to positively to transform both ourselves and the evil, we positively transform the world.

  • Bluejay

    Why do we keep projecting blame onto others and not look at ourselves?

    Who says we can’t do both? We should place blame wherever it rightfully belongs. Sometimes it’s with ourselves. And yes, sometimes, it’s absolutely with others. Rape victims are not responsible for the actions of sexual predators. Minorities are not responsible for the actions of white supremacists. Dead Iraqi civilians are not responsible for the Americans who bombed them.

    Could that not have been Darren Aronofsky’s real intent – to make us think critically – as opposed to deliberately encode misogynistic propaganda throughout the movie in order to drive-home and further promote the oppression and vilification of women as yourself & MaryAnn seem to believe?

    Intent is not necessarily the same as result. As discussed elsewhere in the comments, there are ways to convey what he might have wanted to convey without resorting to tired old roles and tropes, which can all too easily reinforce, rather than challenge, existing structures. Misogyny doesn’t have to be deliberate; it can be, and often is, the result of blinkered vision.

  • Bluejay

    That sounds beautiful. How would that work, on a practical level?

  • Whatever Christianity’s roots, it most definitely does NOT incorporate ANY concept of “Mother Earth.”

  • carelessly give the movie 0/5 stars

    I can assure you that there was absolutely nothing “careless” involved.

    deliberately encode misogynistic propaganda

    What if it wasn’t deliberate?

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Here you go smart arse: https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8099460

    Now that’s coming from a neuroscientist. Are you going to argue with him too?

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Maybe not, however the point I was trying to make was that Christianity is certainly not an opposing mythology to Paganism. That there are both Pagan & Christian themes weaved throughout the movie is totally acceptable in my opinion, and not a contradiction.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Ok then, let’s say hypothetically that he unintentionally made the movie you believe he did. What flow-on effect do you see happening in our society now that such a large number of people have seen it? And are women less safe, now that men have been told subliminally that it’s okay to treat women this way?

  • Bluejay

    “One little trick I learned, but still often forget, is to step outside of myself and view my actions (not my thoughts) as if they are not mine but a friend or a colleague. Would I judge them as hard and be so critical? The answer, when I can achieve this, is always a more positive view of myself then I initially had.”

    Great! So if Trump, Putin, Steve Bannon, Kim Jong-un, Marine Le Pen, Harvey Weinstein, ISIS members, and neo-Nazis all embraced this philosophy, they won’t be so critical of their own actions and will emerge with more positive views of themselves. Having horrible people be more forgiving of themselves definitely solves the problem!

    I’m all for having a “well-tuned mind.” But the problems of this world are too dire, too high-stakes, and too urgent for us to indulge in the luxury of waiting until all the billions of people on Earth somehow decide to “transform themselves” and arrive at the same harmonious attitude.

  • Bluejay

    Really, you’re going to go with O5? If the movie is about a “transcendent perspective,” then it’s a beautiful and important message that everyone should apply to their lives, but if it’s about misogyny, then “who cares, it’s just a movie”?

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Not at all. Clearly I was being sarcastic – something you & MaryAnn are quite proficient at.

    And I’m not saying the key concept to take from the movie is to adopt a purely transcendent attitude towards life. The movie was multi-layered and full of ideas to ponder, both philosophically and ethically.

    I agree that Jennifer Lawrence was subjected to serious acts of cruelty, but I believe Aronofsky was symbolizing the treatment of the planet and possibly parallel to this, the treatment women have and do endure. NOT because he’s a misogynist, but because he’s showing us how crazy we are & that we need to change.

  • Bluejay

    Not at all. Clearly I was being sarcastic

    Yes, I agree that you were. And since your sarcastic question challenged MaryAnn to show that misogyny in a movie would have a social impact, then clearly your real point was that it would have no such impact. Which is what I was critiquing. So what are you denying, exactly?

    NOT because he’s a misogynist

    And again, intention is not the same thing as result, and you don’t need to be a deliberate misogynist to perpetrate misogyny through insufficiently examined decisions. He had other storytelling options that could get his environmental message across without resorting to misogynistic tropes. And as I explain elsewhere, there are ways to effectively criticize misogyny instead of merely demonstrating it.

  • Yes, Christianity is diametrically opposed to the concept of Mother Earth. Christianity *explicitly* states that the Earth was created for humanity and that humanity has “dominion” over it and should “subdue” it. There is NO concept of the planet as an entity unto itself, with rights and dignity of its own. None.

  • What the hell are you talking about? The world IS unsafe for women. It can hardly get less so. Men are CONSTANTLY told to treat women badly. In what way do you think there is ANYTHING in the least bit unusual about the misogyny of this movie? Our culture is positively steeped in it.

  • Clearly I was being sarcastic

    That is in no way clear.

    Aronofsky was symbolizing [snip] the treatment women have and do endure.

    JUST AS I SAID IN MY REVIEW. But that does not excuse it. We do not need to see more women suffer. We KNOW. Enough. We certainly to do not need to torture more women just so that men may learn something. Fuck this shit. Fuck it all to hell.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    You are missing the subtle point I am trying to make. I’m saying that we could possibly be collectively contributing to the sickness that is on display in the external world. (Akin to Carl Jung’s collective unconscious / shadow – see http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/articles/analytical-psychology/841-the-heart-of-history) If our psyches are connected at a deeper level, what is manifesting in the world is a sum-total of our mental illness. Individuals are causing problems (acting out) no doubt, but their problems may stem from a deeper level. We still need to address the individuals and the problems they are creating, but to ignore the potential source of the issue will only lead to the manifestation of the same problems over & over again in the future.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    I’m DENYING that the movie would lead the majority of viewers to the conclusions that you and MaryAnn are promulgating.

    The majority of viewers would see Jennifer Lawrences treatment as an analogy to how we are treating the planet – ie Mother Earth.

    Why don’t you watch a few interviews with the man himself, and see what he says about his movie?

  • Damien Mckinnon

    I said maybe not the concept of Mother Earth in my response, but they do share elements – Christianity have adopted various pagan elements and interwoven them into its religion. So the fact that mother! contains both pagan ideas and Christian ideas is not untoward.

  • Bluejay

    The majority of viewers would see Jennifer Lawrences treatment as an analogy to how we are treating the planet – ie Mother Earth.

    And — AGAIN — there are ways to convey a message about environmentalism without using a metaphor that involves a woman being a doormat for misogyny.

    Why don’t you watch a few interviews with the man himself, and see what he says about his movie?

    Because — AGAIN — intention is not the same as result. He can explain his intentions as much as he wants. That doesn’t change the fact that his storytelling choices were misogynistic, whether or not he was consciously aware of it.

    We’re going around in circles on this, so I suggest we drop it.

  • Bluejay

    I understand your point perfectly well. I doubt its practical applications.

    You seem to have no problem with the notion that humanity possibly shares a collective mental illness, giving rise to things like misogyny, and yet for some reason you believe this film is EXEMPT from that illness. Is it beyond the pale to consider that Aronofsky’s message, however well-intended, was infected by the unthinking and unexamined misogyny that stems from this “deeper level” of shared illness you speak of? Does Aronofsky float above our collective illness, commenting impartially and objectively upon it? Or is he merely human like the rest of us, struggling (and sometimes failing) to free his perception from the toxic attitudes that plague us all?

  • Damien Mckinnon

    But if he did, would the movie have had the same impact? Not in the slightest. It was disturbing and confronting for a reason. It was designed to shake us to the core so we pay attention & look at what we’ve
    been asleep to for so long. Look at all the discussion it has prompted, people will be talking about mother! and the issues it raises for a long time. For that reason alone, surely it’s worthy of atleast 1 star…

  • Damien Mckinnon

    I don’t doubt that misogyny exists in our culture and stems from the collective unconscious.

    But IN MY OPINION (as well as the majority of the population), the movie neither alludes to, nor advocates it. The two protagonists are ANTHROPOMORPHISMS. Mother Earth is being played by SURPRISE SURPRISE, a FEMALE ACTOR. Get over it.

    Maybe I and everyone else who doesn’t hold YOUR VIEW about the movie are wrong, and you and MaryAnn are the most righteous and perceptive humans on the planet. And if that turns out to be the case, then I sincerely apologize for my ignorance.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Well, it would look a little strange and be quite confusing for the audience if a male were playing the role of “Mother Earth”.

    And it’s YOU and MaryAnn who feels the RESULT is misogynistic and are labelling the movie as such, not everyone else.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    “In what way do you think there is ANYTHING in the least bit unusual about the misogyny of this movie?”

    You are begging the question here – you are implying that the movie DEFINITELY IS misogynistic (when that is exactly the matter under contention), and then asking why I am not sensitive to the misogyny in the movie.

  • Danielm80

    A few people have been encouraging me to update the Flick Filosopher Bingo Card. I’ve avoided doing it, because it’s kind of depressing. There are, if anything, even more bad arguments on this website than there were when I made the first card, and far too many of them have to do with rape. It’s really dispiriting to tally them up (although a lot of them are the same old arguments disguised as new ideas). But Damien’s posts on this thread have convinced me that we need a new card. It would include the following squares:

    • FREE SPACE: This is not an objective review.

    • Why would you inject politics into a review of a film about war and poverty and sexism?

    • Do you know how much money this film made?!

    • Critics don’t matter. That’s why I never read reviews like this one.

    • You’ve ruined the film’s perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.

    • You delete every comment that disagrees with you! Like this one!

    • You won’t be happy unless all the women in the movies are completely flawless—you know, like Katniss and Elsa.

    • A woman could never beat up a bunch of guys. I want to see realistic action stars, like Liam Neeson and Tobey Maguire.

    • When you say you want more movies about women, it just shows that you’re being sexist against men.

    • These are just token characters. You never see women and minorities in real life.

    • Speaking as a white man, I’ve noticed very little sexism or racism in the real world.

    • You can’t cast women or minorities in leading roles if you want to make money. You need a big star like Tom Holland or Henry Cavill.

    • You know that these aren’t real people, right?

    • You said the story is “rapey.” Here’s the legal definition of rape. I want you to point to the exact clauses the main character has violated.

    • We need more movies about rape to show that raping people is bad.

    • This film is an allegory. That means it’s really deep. Smart people get it.

    You might have seen hundreds of films about mediocre white men who become successful, but there are plenty of people who haven’t. Why can’t you write a review for us?

    • You need to warn people ahead of time that your reviews are slanted against films that portray women badly.

    • This movie can’t be sexist! All the hot girls are robots or aliens, not real women!

    • This movie is exactly like all the other sexist movies. That’s how you know it’s a successful parody.

    • If they’d switched the genders, you wouldn’t be complaining about the gender stereotypes.

    • A person can’t be a bigot unless they intend to be a bigot.

    • But what about all those TV shows where the guys are goofy, incompetent dads? Why don’t you complain about them?

    • You just like being offended.

    • This Bingo card is designed to cut off intelligent discussion.

    (I could add a whole other row that’s just words like SJW, snowflake, white knight, and virtue signaling, but that’s mostly covered by G4 on the earlier card.)

  • Bluejay

    Well, it would look a little strange and be quite confusing for the audience if a male were playing the role of “Mother Earth”.

    So, this film is supposed to be challenging and thought-provoking and “shake us to our core” and break us out of our rigid patterns of thought… but it’s simply too much to ask an audience to accept a MAN in a nurturing, subservient role? The movie THRIVES on “strange and confusing,” but having a man play the Earth role is TOO strange and confusing? Got it.

    And that’s hardly the only alternative option. As I suggested in my other comment, why not have both God AND Nature be played by women? That way, you can still have violence against Nature (if you must), but it avoids the age-old misogynistic dichotomy of Woman being seen as ONLY the passive, subservient caretaker while Man is the virile Master/Creator. It even fits in better with your thesis! If humanity is collectively responsible for its monsters, if we are both the dream and the dreamer, what better way to show it than to have both Perpetrator and Victim played by people from the SAME “group,” rather than have one group/gender persecuting another? Hell, use special effects wizardry and have Jennifer Lawrence play BOTH roles (perhaps as twins, with a close but dysfunctional bond)! You can’t claim that’s too crazy a choice, in a movie that clearly has no upper limit on crazy.

    And it’s YOU and MaryAnn who feels the RESULT is misogynistic and are labelling the movie as such, not everyone else.

    Well, bummer. I checked my calendar, and I must have missed the special election that made YOU the spokesman for “everyone else.” I should really update my voter registration.

    First of all, it wouldn’t matter if only MaryAnn and I held this view. Arts criticism is not a numbers game, and a majority of people who share a subjective opinion does not make it “the right one.”

    And second, clearly not “everyone else” disagrees with us. In this comments section alone, there are other commenters talking about the film’s misogyny; and MaryAnn and I have posted comments that have received 5 upvotes or more, presumably from people who agree with us. Reviewers on other websites have identified the film’s misogyny as well — for instance here and here and here. So you can knock it off with your “no one agrees with you!” nonsense. Learn to live with the fact that other people may view a film with a perspective radically different than yours.

  • Bluejay

    IN MY OPINION (as well as the majority of the population)

    See my other comment. You don’t speak for the majority of the population.

    The two protagonists are ANTHROPOMORPHISMS. Mother Earth is being played by SURPRISE SURPRISE, a FEMALE ACTOR. Get over it.

    Again, see my other comment. It’s interesting that a film that wants to be seen as daring and risk-taking and provocative would just unquestioningly embrace ancient tropes and rigid roles. “Of course Mother Earth is a woman! That’s how it’s always been!” Yeah, really impressive out-of-the-box creativity there.

    Maybe I and everyone else who doesn’t hold YOUR VIEW about the movie are wrong, and you and MaryAnn are the most righteous and perceptive humans on the planet. And if that turns out to be the case, then I sincerely apologize for my ignorance.

    Dude, this ENTIRE CONVERSATION is about opinions. You’re not saying anything revelatory by pointing out that these are MaryAnn’s and my opinions, or that you have your own opinion. But opinions are only as good as how well we back them up and defend them, which is what we’re doing. Stamping your foot and saying “Well, that’s just what YOU think!” isn’t a very impressive move.

    You seem quite upset and hostile about all this. Why not “accept and embrace” the fact that there are those who disagree with you, “transcend” this argument with loving forgiveness, and move on? I’m sure that’s what an enlightened human with a “well-tuned brain” would do.

  • Bluejay

    Danielm80, these are BRILLIANT! If there’s too much here to fit on a card, then I propose that these arguments be numbered and appended as a list to the original card (with additional arguments to be added as needed).

  • Danielm80

    There should be exactly 25 squares. I can transfer them to a Bingo card at some point, if people are interested, but I won’t have the time right away, so folks are welcome to suggest changes as appropriate.

  • Bluejay

    So we’d have two working cards? We should designate them as Card A or Card B or something.

  • Danielm80

    I was thinking about marking one 2017.

  • Damien Mckinnon

    Maybe a little upset, but definitely not hostile. You see, it’s a little difficult not to get on the defensive when I feel like I’m being lumped into the woman-hater category for having a different view of the movie. That is not what I am about at all. I consider myself a moral and decent human being, with the utmost respect for women just as I am sure you guys are. Yours and MaryAnn’s responses have made me question that about myself but a post I read today has restored a little bit of confidence:

    Some critics have called the final sequence—particularly what is done to Lawrence—misogynistic. Entertainment Weekly even titled its review “Jennifer Lawrence Gets Put Through the Torture-Porn Wringer.” But Aronofsky has a response for those people: “They are missing the whole point. It’s misogyny if it says that this is good . . . I think [any spit-take revulsion is] just like an initial reaction to being punched. We are telling the story of Mother Nature turning into a female energy, and we defile the earth. We call her dirt. We don’t clean up after our mess. We drill in her. We cut down her forests. We take without giving back. That’s what the movie is.” Referencing Hurricane Irma, which was touching down in Florida as the film premiered, Aronofsky added, “Naomi Klein, one of the great eco-feminist out there, sent me a text yesterday, talking about the irony of the film premiering yesterday with what’s happening right now in America.”

    As you said though, everyone will have their own opinions. And maybe there are no definitive answers since everything is ultimately subjective anyway.

  • I’m DENYING that the movie would lead the majority of viewers to the conclusions that you and MaryAnn are promulgating.

    How on Earth can you possibly know this? And how would you account for the fact that I am far from the only critic or culture watcher to have seen what I saw in the movie?

    Why don’t you watch a few interviews with the man himself, and see what he says about his movie?

    What the filmmaker thinks he is saying has very little to do with what viewers take from it. What *he* thinks his movie is about does not change what I see in it. That’s not how any of this works.

  • the fact that mother! contains both pagan ideas and Christian ideas is not untoward.

    This was not the point being discussed.

  • but it’s simply too much to ask an audience to accept a MAN in a nurturing, subservient role?

    That literally is it. It would be a step too far to place a man in such a position. It is literally unthinkable.

  • Oh dear, I shall rephrase for you: In what way do you think the gender dynamics depicted in this movie are in the least bit unusual?

  • A million upvotes.

  • feel like I’m being lumped into the woman-hater category for having a different view of the movie.

    Who has done anything like that? Who has accused *you* of being misogynistic? We’ve accused you only of not seeing the misogyny. Those aren’t at all the same things.

    Aronofsky has a response for those people

    And I have responded to that idea several times over already, both in my review and in the comments here. Whatever the director thinks, we DO NOT NEED more depictions of misogyny, even to “critique” it. And if his idea of “female energy” is passive servitude, fuck that shit.

  • Bluejay

    You see, it’s a little difficult not to get on the defensive when I feel like I’m being lumped into the woman-hater category for having a different view of the movie. That is not what I am about at all. I consider myself a moral and decent human being, with the utmost respect for women just as I am sure you guys are.

    Fair enough, though I feel obliged to point out that you were also quick to lump MaryAnn into the “superficial, blinkered” category for having a different view of the movie. Dismissing a woman’s concerns about misogyny as a “superficial layer” suggests, not that you’re a woman-hater, but that you may have been more invested in defending your blind spots than in admitting you may have them.

    And you know, I get it. It’s hard not to feel personally judged for your taste (and perhaps your morals) when something you really like is being severely critiqued. I like to think I’ve always been a decent person, who tries hard not to be racist or sexist; and yet I used to (for example) LOVE Disney’s Peter Pan movie, which I now realize was a racist and sexist piece of crap. That doesn’t mean I was a bad person for enjoying it. It means that, because I grew up in (and still exist in, and am influenced by) a racist and sexist society, I was privileged to have significant blind spots that allowed me to enjoy certain things while being able to ignore or trivialize problematic attitudes that may have been hurtful to others.

    I’m sure I still have blind spots regarding many issues today. The challenge is to be secure in my own basic decency and good intentions, while AT THE SAME TIME being willing to listen to other perspectives (particularly of women, minorities, and other groups that are not the traditional dominant power in society); being open to the possibility that I may have gotten some things wrong or missed some aspect of the bigger picture; and being okay with making mistakes (and being called out for them) and trying to do better next time. Pride makes that hard, and I’ll fail, sometimes. And so will you. C’est la vie. :-)

    But Aronofsky has a response for those people

    Maryann has addressed this, but I wanted to add that once a piece of art is released to the public, the creator’s explanations shouldn’t really matter. The public will interpret the art however it interprets the art. If the artist has to step in and say, “No, no, you’re looking at it wrong, you have to look at it THIS way,” then perhaps that’s a sign that the art has failed.

    Naomi Klein, one of the great eco-feminist out there

    Of course, feminists (like any other group) are not in lock-step agreement on everything. That doesn’t mean that the complaints that some feminists have about the film’s misogyny aren’t valid or worthy of consideration.

  • Jessica Hanson

    Among these three films, which one pissed you off the most/least?

    mother!
    The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence
    Nymphomaniac

  • It’s not a contest. What possibly difference could it make what my answer would be?

  • It’s not a contest. All these movies are bad in their own unique ways. What possible purpose could there be in me ranking them?

  • Jessica Hanson

    I’m just curious. I’m not trying to convince you to change your opinion or anything. Honestly, what triggered me to ask you this was your mention of how this film (mother!) made you more angry than ever before. Was just wondering if the other two affected you as much (or not as much).

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