Taglines: Seeing is believing.
Amidst a wild flat meadow encircled by an Edenic lush forest, a couple have cocooned themselves in a secluded grand mansion that was not so long ago burned to the ground, devotedly restored by the supportive wife. Within this safe environment, the once famous middle-aged poet husband is desirous of creating his magnum opus; however, he seems unable to break out of the persistent creative rut that haunts him.
Then, unexpectedly, a knock at the door, the sudden arrival of a cryptic late-night visitor and his intrusive wife will stimulate the writer’s stagnant imagination. Little by little, much to the perplexed wife’s surprise, the more chaos he lets in their haven, the better for his punctured male ego. In the end, will this incremental mess blemish, irreparably, the couple’s inviolable sanctuary?
Mother! (stylized as mother!) is a 2017 American psychological horror film written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The plot follows a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple.
Mother! grossed $17.8 million in the United States and Canada and $26.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $44.5 million, against a production budget of $30 million. In North America, the film was released alongside American Assassin and was projected to gross $12–14 million from 2,368 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $700,000 from Thursday night previews and $3.1 million on its first day.
It went on to open to just $7.5 million, finishing third at the box office and marking the worst debut for Lawrence in a film where she had top billing. Deadline.com attributed the film’s underperformance to its controversial narrative, misleading advertisements, and “F” CinemaScore grade. Other publications wrote that the film’s CinemaScore grade, which is extremely rare, is associated with “a movie that goes out of its way to artfully alienate or confuse audiences.” In its second weekend, the film dropped 56.3% to $3.3 million, finishing sixth at the box office.
Mother! is the first Aronofsky film without composer Clint Mansell’s involvement. The film originally had a score composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson, but after seeing the 90 minute score synced up with a rough cut of the film, Aronofsky and Jóhannsson agreed not to use the original score. They experimented with using the score at only a few moments, or instead using a new minimal score focused on sound-design that incorporated noises into the soundscape of the house. Ultimately, they went with the second choice, and Jóhannsson’s work merged with the sound design of Craig Henighan.
About the Story
In a house recently burned by fire, Him, an acclaimed poet struggling with severe writer’s block, places a crystal object on a pedestal. The house then suddenly morphs to look newly renovated. In bed, Mother wakes up, wondering aloud where Him is. She starts seeing things around the house that unsettle her, including visualizing a beating heart within the walls.
One day, Man turns up at the house, asking for a room. Him readily agrees, and Mother reluctantly follows suit. During his stay, Man is seen with an open wound in his side. The next day, Man’s wife, Woman, also arrives to stay. Mother is increasingly frustrated with her guests, while Him begs her to let them stay, telling Mother that the guests are fans of his work and that the male guest is dying, and wanted to meet Him. However, when Man and Woman accidentally break and shatter the crystallized object, Mother decides to kick them out.
The couple’s two sons arrive and start to fight over the will left by their father. The Oldest Son, who is willed nothing, mortally injures his Younger Brother and apparently flees, while Him, Man, and Woman take the injured son to get help. Mother is left alone in the house, where she discovers the furnace’s oil tank hidden behind the basement walls.
Upon returning, Him informs Mother that the son has died. Dozens of people begin arriving at the house following the death of the son. More people arrive, and behave in a way that bothers Mother; she becomes angrier and eventually snaps when they flood the house. She kicks everyone out. Angry with Him for allowing into the house so many people for his pleasure and ignoring her, she berates him before the two engage in sex.
The next morning, Mother announces that she is pregnant. The news leaves Him elated and inspires him to finish his work. A few months later, Mother prepares for the arrival of their child and reads Him’s beautiful new poem. Upon publication, the edition immediately sells out. In celebration, Mother prepares dinner. Meanwhile, a group of fans arrives at the house.
As she barricades herself, more fans arrive and begin to enter the house to use the bathroom. Their behavior devolves into disrupting the environment and stealing their belongings as keepsakes. An increasingly disoriented Mother makes her way around the house as each room devolves into chaos. Him’s publisher, the Herald, takes part in the madness. Military men with guns arrive to help Mother, but a cult of devoted fans forms around Him; they start to engage in rituals.
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Jovan Adepo, Amanda Chiu, Patricia Summersett, Emily Hampshire, Stephanie Ng Wan, Abraham Aronofsky
Screenplay by: Darren Aronofsky
Production Design by: Philip Messina
Cinematography by: Matthew Libatique
Film Editing by: Andrew Weisblum
Costume Design by: Danny Glicker
Set Decoration by: Larry Dias, Martine Kazemirchuk
Art Direction by: Isabelle Guay
MPAA Rating: R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: September 15, 2017