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What Is the Twist in Mother?

Here's the Brain-Melting Twist at the End of Mother!

Warning! Plot spoilers for Mother! are below.

Jennifer Lawrence stars in this month's Mother! as the title character in Darren Aronofsky's psycho-thriller, a film that intends to be provocative and divisive and which lends itself to interpretation. The director himself remarked at TIFF that the film is an allegory, and once you see the film, the allegory becomes clear, almost heavy-handed, but there are still plenty of elements up for discussion. (Stop reading now if you don't want to be spoiled.)

One is the ending. At the very end, there is somewhat of a twist, after mother, Lawrence's continually put-upon character, chooses to blow up her own house. Guest after guest invades her house until it's full of violent interlopers, and her own husband (played by Javier Bardem) encourages the death and destruction instead of protecting his wife and their newborn child. Through the allegory, we understand that Bardem's character, "Him," is actually God and the creator of the home, the world, and mother. It's his actions at the beginning of the film that precipitate the film's action and his actions at the end of the film that seem to start everything — the whole scenario — over again.

At the very beginning of the film, we see a man and woman, their faces and bodies burnt, and they lock eyes. Just after that, we see Him with a small, precious crystal, as he places it in a special stand. There is a montage of the unusual house being restored after being burnt to a crisp. Then, we meet Lawrence's character for the first time when she wakes up in bed alone, then calls out for her husband: "Baby?"

Let's fast forward to the very end now. Mother, physically and emotionally devastated by the invaders of her home, takes a lighter and blows up her house and everything in it. She and her husband aren't dead yet, though, and he carries her charred body, lovingly, before setting her on a table. He asks for more from her, but she doesn't know what else she has to give. And then he pulls out her heart (like I said, it gets pretty heavy-handed) and crushes it until it becomes another small, precious crystal.

Next, we see the same montage of the house burnt, then restored. Then we get same frame in the bedroom of a woman sleeping, and instead of it being Lawrence as mother, this time it's another actress. "Baby?" she calls out, in the exact same way we saw at the beginning of the movie, implying that the whole cycle begins again. That makes another conclusion that adds to the twist: one infers that at the time Lawrence's version of mother wakes up, that's the first moment of her existence, and she wakes fully-formed, with one purpose: to nurture her husband, home, and womb, and then to die when the inhabitants of her world repeatedly, unrepentantly take everything from her.

As Aronofsky explained, the whole film is a modern allegory for how we treat our collective mother, but he assures that his story is a "cautionary tale," because our story on this planet is obviously not over. In Aronofsky's vision, the God character isn't a villain or malicious; he simply wants too much love, a challenge Aronofsky said Bardem had to translate in his acting. Bardem had to express "his need for love and even more love past her," which explains his character's desire to repeat the same scenario over and over again. The question is, does his character ever learn? Does he start over each time with no memory of his previous actions and destruction? Does the ending ever change, and does Mother, and her life and essence, ever survive? That may be the most interesting question Mother! can get us to ask ourselves.

Image Source: Paramount Pictures
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