Sunday, September 24, 2017

MOTHER! (2017) - A Few Thoughts

MOTHER (2017) is easily one of the best films of the year. By saying that I have taken a stand on the side of a movie that is garnering the lowest ratings from general audiences in the history of motion pictures. I find this amusing as hell, of course. The audience I saw this with was made up of mostly clueless people there to see the new 'scary' J-Law film and they left that theater confused and pissed off!

Sadly, a general audience was never going to enjoy this film because it does two things that they despise - It asks them to pay attention and it asks them to think. Any movie that requires that you actively mentally engage to understand it is doomed to fail with the broad general audience. This is different from surprising or shocking an audience, which this film does as well. And if you can make an audience think that they are all clever little people because they see what you were doing with your oh so clever storytelling, then they will absolutely love you. If you can give that audience the illusion that it is really smart you will be beloved. (By the way - I think this is the reason why the SAW films were so popular with such a wide audience. Those clever little endings of each film made the audience feel as if they were in on some really smart joke. Even though they weren't.)

But what MOTHER does is make very sharp a delineation that most films won't go near, which is that every viewer of any film always brings their own thoughts and experiences to that movie when they watch it. Whether you understand this or not doesn't matter - you are doing it. No two people see the same film in the same way. MOTHER understands this and wants to coax you into viewing this movie in your own personal way so you will read into it what you see there.

For instance, the film that Jennifer Lawrence made and sees when she views this movie is very different from the film that I saw. She has said that she sees this as a metaphor for Mother Earth and human destruction of it. That's an excellent way of looking at things. I like that. But it's not what I saw.

The film that I saw was an allegory about the destructive nature of the creative impulse. How the desire for an artist to create something of transcendent beauty that can be absorbed and enjoyed by a wide audience has the danger built into it intrinsically that it can be misused for Destruction instead of Construction. And the author/poet/creator of these thoughts is both horrified and thrilled by the effect of his creation upon the world around him. The approbation that he gains, the notoriety that he gains, the love that he gains from this broad audience of people who appreciate his work is more important to him than the things that make his creative life possible. That he uses the irreplaceable love in his own life to be able to create the wonderful, touching, beautiful piece of art that inspired all of this attention for himself is unimportant. Or it is just less important than the thrill of being deified by the people who love what he created.

In the end, the Creator is both horrified and satisfied that he inevitably destroys the thing that allows him to be a creative person. He cannot stop the force that is unleashed by his creative impulse even as his life is destroyed by his creation. It seems that in this destruction he finds a new way to create and he cannot stop himself from going through this cycle repeatedly. Indeed, it is the only way in which he knows how to create. Possibly it is the only way in which he can create something so affecting and effective. His act of construction is tied inextricably to destruction. This is the horror of the story. For me, at least.

So, as you can tell, this is not a film for everyone. But I think it's brilliant. 

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