by Lash

 It starts off as a wholesome movie, a loving couple living an idyllic rural existence, away from the craziness of city life.

But we know better, because the unsettling movie poster promoting the film has Jennifer Lawrence in a pretty frock, with a gaping wound to her chest and holding, no, more like offering, a bloodied heart. How did it get from a pair of lovebirds to this gruesome sight?

Lawrence plays Mother in Mother!, while Javier Bardem , her husband, is simply known as Him. Bardem’s character is a renowned poet, currently suffering from a serious case of writer’s block. Nothing seems out of the ordinary (maybe except for the age difference between husband and wife) until one night, when a visitor turns up unannounced, in the form of Ed Harris. He thought the pair’s house was a Bed and breakfast. Him decides to take the stranger in, unwittingly (or not?) opening the door to a series of disturbing events. First, the stranger’s wife (he is known as Man and his wife is simply known as Woman), played by Michelle Pfeiffer, joins him and makes herself at home in their house. Then their twin sons followed, equally treating Him and Mother’s house like their own.

From then on, more unexpected guests show up, confusing the heck out of Mother, whose introverted nature is being tested to the limit with these strange new happenings in her home, made worse by Him’s increasing hospitality toward these intruders. While Mother retreats into her own demons as more people enter into her home, Him, on the other hand, thrives on the crowd.

Things all go downhill from here, with strange happenings, hallucinations and creepy characters, making you wonder if this is a horror movie, psychological thriller, a biblical tale or an ode to Mother Nature? Suffice to say, after one viewing of Mother!, you’d be left confused, and with each additional viewing, you probably have a different take on what the movie’s about. Here’s a look at what are the four main possible theories there are about Mother!

The Giving Tree

If you’ve read Shel Silverstein’s famous story about the apple tree that gives and gives until she has nothing but a stump left, you’d perhaps find it a parallel to Mother! Just like the Boy in the story, Him seemingly takes and takes from Mother, depleting her of any life. In fact, director Darren Aronofsky gave Lawrence a copy of the Giving Tree to prepare her for the role.

The Bible

After watching, most people would fall back on biblical reference for the movie and it’s not hard to guess why. According to Aronofsky, the film is set on the sixth day of creation. One theory is that Bardem’s Him is God, while Harris as Man and Pfeiffer as Woman are Adam and Eve. Their twin sons, played by real-life brothers Domhnall and Brian Gleeson, are Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s sons. As for Lawrence’s Mother, there’ a strong belief that she’s not a character but a representation of Mother Earth, being devastated bit by bit by destructive humans. Speaking of Mother Earth…

Mother Earth

Removing any religious context, Mother! could very well be about our Planet Earth, represented by Lawrence in the film. Selfish Humans (the increasing number of unwanted guests in the movie) have come to take away her resources for their own needs (by taking advantage of her hospitality and niceness). It all seems possible. In fact, Aronofsky had said in an interview with Variety that, "I wanted to make a film about Mother Nature, so we're working on an allegorical level, where it's dealing with these big symbols." Aronofsky could very well be using Mother! as a message to get through to the audience of the damaging actions on our planet.

Women’s Rights

There is yet another theory that in today’s climate especially, might ring true. And that is Mother! is a movie that condemns sexism. Lawrence herself, mentioned in an interview that Mother is “a feminist movie”. The simple overarching storyline of a domineering, controlling husband abuses his wife forms the basis of this theory. As the movie progresses, Him takes up more space at home, and changes from loving husband to an overbearing one, often belittling Mother, causing her breakdown, and consuming her in the end. Could Aronofsky be portraying the increasingly worrying social issue of abuse in marriage?  


If you’ve not seen Mother!, watch it with an open mind, and you can create your own theory afterwards. There doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong theory, the beauty of the movie is that it’s open to your own interpretation. Aronofsky himself shared, “it's a weird movie. You go into it thinking you're watching one type of movie and it shifts into another type of movie. And then it keeps changing, and by the end, hopefully you're shaken and deeply moved."

You’ll probably have to watch it a few more times to form your own defining theory about what Mother! is all about.

Catch Aronofsky shed some light on Mother! in this interview: