“Mother!” – film review

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

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