Mother!, according to writers who haven’t seen it.

Two Slate Writers Who Have Not Seen Mother! Attempt to Describe the Plot of Mother!

Two Slate Writers Who Have Not Seen Mother! Attempt to Describe the Plot of Mother!

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Sept. 26 2017 8:03 AM

Two Slate Writers Who Have Not Seen Mother! Attempt to Describe the Plot of Mother!

Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!

Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!

Recently, a Slate staffer who has not seen Mother! (officially styled mother!) noted that if you don’t see the Darren Aronofsky film but do overhear conversations about it, you start to accumulate a really strange set of details in your head. So, we asked two writers who haven’t seen Mother! to describe the plot of Mother!

Spoilers (?) follow.


Andrew Kahn: I’ve read Dana’s review, so most of what I know comes from Dana’s review.

Rebecca Onion: I’ve read that and heard a podcast, and read one other thing, and seen a bunch of tweets without clicking on their links. So, let’s go.

It is … about a woman … who is in a house.

Kahn: Not only is it about a woman, it is also about womanhood. woman!


Onion: It is about the Eternal Female and the Eternal Male, the battle between the earth and technology. Or something.

Kahn: Earth (stylized earth!).

Onion: Ugh. It’s like this book, right, but in Darren Aronofsky movie form? And there is a baby eaten????

Kahn: There is a baby eaten. I think that may be the big twist. I think a group of people eat a baby.


Onion: We are spoiling and we haven’t seen it!!!!

Kahn: I’m not sure if it’s the spoiler.

Onion: Is it like The Road, a baby on a spit? Is it Ed Harris eating it?

Kahn: You just spoiled The Road for me. So—the plot of mother! (?). It is ... full of spoilers. It is very easily spoiled! This is a movie that is like milk (the liquid, not the movie).


Onion: OK, go on.

Kahn: Well, I think we know the allegorical stakes. And we know the twist. We just have to fill in the middle. I heard the second half “takes a turn.”

Onion: Wait, a different turn from the baby? The baby is at the end.

Kahn: I’m assuming the baby is at the end. I don’t know how you could follow the baby.


Onion: So the beginning is a creepy marriage thing. Javier Bardem is old.

Kahn: Yes. He is old.

Onion: J-Law is young.

Kahn: J-Law is young and probably acting poorly. I believe her to be a poor actor.

Onion: Javier is soooooo ancient, a poet.

Kahn: A moody poet. So there’s a wife and her poet—and “a stranger comes to town.”

Onion: Yep.

Kahn: Ed Harris. He won’t leave.

Onion: He is gaunt and old. Older than Javier!

Kahn: He stays too long. He stays and stays.

Onion: Suddenly he invites Michelle Pfeiffer in?

Kahn: He must be … a source of power for the poet. The poet is making him stay. However, the poet also has a gemstone.

Onion: J-Law is initially timid and wary and then decides she doesn’t like him.

Kahn: The poet has various dependencies (Ed Harris, diamond).

Onion: Meanwhile, J-Law is drinking yellow potions in tumblers.

Kahn: And we don’t learn the meaning of the potions—ever? Maybe at the end.

Onion: No. Never. That is one thing people have commented upon.

Kahn: OK, we never learn the meaning of the potions.

Onion: Never. Nor a number of other … motifs. They remain mysterious.

Kahn: So. 1. Creepy marriage. 2. Creepy guests. And J-Law is doing a lot to improve the house? She’s a housewife. A house-wife.

Onion: She is padding about on a wooden floor.

Kahn: She’s a very housey person.

Onion: She is hanging tapestries.

Kahn: She spackles the walls. I assume she adjusts paintings at some point?

Onion: I think so.

Kahn: Is it modern? Does it have a time period? I imagine J-Law in Housemaids Tale [sic] get-up.

Onion: Handmaid’s!!!

Kahn: I also haven’t seen Housemaids Tale [sic], so they fuse in my mind.

Onion: So. What happens?????? There are two brothers. They are Cain and Abel, maybe.

Kahn: Oh, I hadn’t heard about that.

Onion: Cain and Abel!!! The brothers fight. One kills another. They have to hide the body.

Kahn: Cain and Abel.

Onion: Yeah, it’s allegory, like East of Eden.

Kahn: Well, at some point the walls start bleeding. I assume the hiding of the body CAUSES THIS.

Onion: Oh, yeah.

Kahn: Like “Telltale Heart”–style. In the basement.

Onion: The house cannot hold the crime to itself. The house explodes in guilt.

Kahn: How do the brothers relate to Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer? Are they additional guests?

Onion: They are their kids!!!!

Kahn: Oh, and the brothers are real-life brothers.

Onion: Ed is … Adam, and Michelle is Eve???

Kahn: The parents must be upset, their kids died.

Onion: I think they don’t care. They are Bad. ... Is there anything else to say about Mother?

Kahn: *mother!

Kahn: We eventually find out about the gemstone, I believe, at the very end.

Onion: There is a reveal? For that at least, if not the tonics.

Kahn: I think there’s a reveal. And—the baby is eaten by a crowd, so at some point a crowd must be attracted to the abode. I would guess a cult.

Kahn: I think it is like Rosemary’s Baby.

Onion: Is it J-Law’s baby??? (Same as Rosemary.)

Kahn: I assume it is J-Law’s baby, as J-Law’s character is named “mother(!).”

Onion: Oh, poor J-Law then.

Kahn: Who impregnates her? Javier? Maybe somebody else. Maybe a potion.

Onion: Ed Harris, my money’s on.

Kahn: He seems like a pregnator.

Onion: He sure does. Very vital.

Kahn: Cowboy.

Onion: Are you going to see it?

Kahn: I think I will see it? Who cares. Idk.

Onion: I don’t think I’ll see it. I don’t want to see the baby go.

Kahn: I will see it if I am assured that J-Law doesn’t do a New Jersey accent, like in American Hustle.

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