mother! ★★★★


Up from 51. No second viewing required, just a super-nerdy, super-convoluted eureka moment analogy to reconcile the fact that I didn't like it first time round. (Note: I didn't actively seek any reason to like this, I was perfectly content with not. This just popped into my head and fundamentally dismantled my primary criticism of the film, which I can't ignore.) My position was that the allegories/metaphors in mother! were so messy, so poorly formulated, sloppily portrayed, and uncomplimentary to each other that they were no joy to think about, and thus, any meaning beneath the surface-level hysteria (which I found acidifying to experience) was of no interest to me. I respected the film's craft, for sure, even its conviction, but in the same way you respect your enemies in war whilst still hating them. But I was wrong. I was looking at both the film's meanings and its experience the wrong way, categorically so. I likened trying to find parallels in the film—finding meaning to its metaphors—to trying to find parallels here: basically tiresome to the point of futility. I racked this up to incompetence on the part of Aronofsky. But, then I stopped to think: Is this the right way to look at it? Is there a method to the madness? Is geology the key to understanding mother!?

You read that right. The figure I used to display mother!'s "messyphors", as I put it, could just easily have been this picture, an equally on the face of it unintelligible scribble. But, (and this is where it starts to get good), in this second, slightly consternating diagram, there's an underlying mechanism that explains its disorder. Plotting temperature (T) against pressure (P), the diagram shows the stability fields of common metamorphic minerals (those that have been altered to another under the influence of heat and pressure). I now see the allegories in mother! like these rocks, originally archetypal, formulated and stratified; but now, after being exposed to great pressure and temperature—or, their mother! analogs, mania and anxiety—they are twisted and ill-fitting. Mother Nature; God; Man; Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel; the creative process; fame; global warming; misogyny: all of them deposited as one suite and subsequently morphed into something, not quite right, by the tectonic power that is mother!. And it's as masochistic as it is sadistic, a suicide bomb of thematic shrapnel, assaulting itself as much as you, gradually at first, but then strike-slipping into armageddon. A film about the earth, indeed.

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