Does mother! Have Meaning?

Ajla Nasic, Social Media Manager

After the release of multiple ambiguous trailers relating to the film, Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller mother! premiered worldwide on Sept. 15. Originally being anticipated by audiences and fans of Aronofsky’s work, the film has since received mixed reviews ― likely due to the abstract meaning of it.


Unlike the majority of arthouse films, mother! was released widely without the studio organizing preview screenings in smaller theaters, a decision that was encouraged by the director. This choice deeply impacted the receival of the film as average movie-goers were likely unprepared for the gruesome insanity Aronofsky was about to present.


The anxiety-inducing film follows an unnamed newlywed couple feeling the strain of their relationship as they reside in a secluded home. Morbid conflict ensues as hoards of people torment the lead character in her home, worshipping her husband in the process. Compiled with both stunning and disturbing imagery, mother! was a nightmare come to life ― featuring themes of death, horror, hardship, and even romance.


While the film was visually stunning with Aronofsky’s ability of making an isolated home on the countryside appear terrifying, theater-goers found it difficult to find meaning within the complicated feature. As a result, Aronofsky has been criticized for relying too much on aesthetics over substance.


Creating surrealist films is not unusual for Aronofsky, director of the psychological thrillers Black Swan and Pi. However, mother! has perplexed audiences with the initial meaning of the story remaining unclear.


While Mother! may seem to lack meaning, the endless interpretations the film can spawn really represent the true beauty behind Aronofsky’s work. Many viewers have viewed the film as an allegory for the destruction of mother nature; the lead character representing her begging for individuals to look after her “home”, earth. Therein, the film comments on the cruel nature of humankind and its incapability to see its perpetual destruction of the world.


Despite mother! perplexing average movie fans, the director’s decision to leave the entirety of the film up to interpretation was a wise one. Even if the film seems to lack meaning, the contrast between the horrific yet beautiful visuals that encompass the insanity of the movie make it a worthwhile watch.


Since its release, the movie has received a score of ‘F’ on the Cinemascore grading scale according to audiences; making it one of few films in history to receive the grade. However, critics seemed to thoroughly enjoy the film, leaving it with a score of 67% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.