[Note to you, dear reader: This post discusses themes and interpretations, some of which are spoiler-ish, of Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! in detail. If you haven’t seen it and would like to go in fresh, please scroll on.]
Mother! has proven to be extremely polarizing, not only in the wide array of reactions to the film—some love it, and others, namely the people stopped outside of multiplexes to gauge their reactions for CinemaScore, hated it—but in the many crazy ways it’s been interpreted. Global warming metaphor? Biblical allegory? Commentary on the relationship between art and artist, or an artist and their audience? Mother! has it all.
And, if you want to get all Lynchian about it, to some extent that’s all that matters. It means what you think it means, man. But, for what it’s worth, Mother! director Darren Aronofsky offers his interpretation of the film’s themes in a new interview with Collider. Team Biblical Allegory—including The A.V. Club’s own Ignatiy Vishnevetsky—come down and claim your prize. Or don’t, it’s probably something pretty gross:
There [are] completely Biblical elements that I’m surprised—some people are really picking up on [them] immediately, other people have no clue, and I think that’s just how people are brought up. But that was the structure of the film was the Bible, using that as a way of discussing how humans have lived here on Earth. But it was also meant to be sort of ambiguous because that’s not really a story, it’s more of a structural thing. A lot of people aren’t picking up on all of it, there’s lots of little things and Easter Eggs and how things connect, and I think that’s the fun of unpacking the movie.
Aronofsky goes on to say, “I sort of wanted to tell the story of Mother Nature from her point of view,” so the environmental metaphor crowd isn’t too far off, either. Aronofsky does push back against, but doesn’t totally deny, the “art and artist” interpretation, saying, “unless you sort of have a sense that we’re talking about other stuff or you allow yourself to take a ride on that, you’re gonna resist it and not have a good trip,” which makes some sort of sense given that he’s dating beleaguered star Jennifer Lawrence. He also dismisses the idea that it’s about rabid fans, saying, “I don’t know, no one’s bangin’ on my door to make the next one.”
So, there you go. Nothing definitive, but what did you expect?