“Seeing is believing” flashes across the screen at the start of the official trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (yes, you must lowercase the “m” and add an exclamation point). The phrase returns more than halfway through, words punctuated by frenetic string music as they appear onscreen.
It’s an appropriate tagline for a film heretofore shrouded in mystery. Before this trailer, we didn’t know much; maybe Aronofsky just wanted us to wait and see (and believe?). We knew that the movie, per IMDb, “centers on a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.” We knew it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem alongside Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, and we knew that on Mother’s Day, Aronofsky released a Joanna Newsom–album-cover-meets-human-sacrifice poster for the film.
Now, thanks to this freaky but informative trailer, we know that J-Law is a reclusive lady who spends her time redoing her house and asking her husband (Bardem) if he likes it. (He doesn’t really reply. Not a good sign!) She wanders around painting the walls and wearing light colors, generally leading a very lifestyle-brand existence.
It’s all fun and home renovations until she finds the proverbial spot of blood on the doormat and things start to unravel. First, Harris appears at their front door. He’s meant to stay with them. Lawrence is not down; she says to her husband, “He’s a stranger! We’re just gonna let him sleep in our house?” It turns out that yes, that is the plan.
From there on out, it’s Airbnb gone wrong. When Pfeiffer (Harris’s wife) shows up, so does an artistic design in blood on the (need I remind you, newly and lovingly renovated) basement wall. It becomes clear that Bardem and Lawrence have different priorities; she tells him that Harris “has pictures of you in his luggage,” to which Bardem replies, “What were you doing in their luggage?”
Throughout the trailer, the house fills up with people––first, a crowd within the rooms, and later a horde of people approaching across the dark front lawn carrying flashlights. Who knows who they are, but they seem to really stress out Jennifer Lawrence! Bardem is into it, though; he says, grinning, “They’ve come here to see me.”
This film supposedly marks Aronofsky’s return to the psychosexual vibes of Black Swan; Pfeiffer appears during the trailer making a sinister, desirous face while wearing a lacy garter, which means she is basically another incarnation of Mila Kunis’s ballerina, a scary-sexy foil for Lawrence. And though the imdB cast list is mostly devoid of character names, the few roles that are named include Refugee, Pervert, and Sex slave. Fun!
This is an Aronofsky movie, after all, so just because the trailer sheds some light on the plot doesn’t make it seem less weird. And he’s left us some key mysteries: Why is the film called mother!?
It’s OK; the mysteries are the fun part. The trailer gets most exciting at the end, when it’s not so sensical anymore. For a few brief flashes, Jennifer Lawrence is no longer composed and concerned but stringy-haired and wild, kissing some man (her husband? a “guest”?) with surprising enjoyment. Just before the end of the trailer, we see her dressed in all black, lurching up from the ground as a man pulls the door shut against her. Is she, all of a sudden, the one everyone’s afraid of?
For now, let’s not worry too much about the mysteries of the movie, and instead speculate on the important thing: Lawrence and Aronofsky’s relationship. Watch the trailer and consider the fact that they started dating after filming this movie together. That’s the scary part.