mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#76 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:11 pm

Almost nothing is more awkward than finding out that someone has a higher opinion of themselves than you could've possibly imagined, but Darren Aronofksy cannot help himself but to show his ass to the entire planet. My god - what a rich and tight and exciting meditation on its main character’s relatable desire to just be alone this was for a while, before one feels its writer and director beginning to slam his boot down on the almost fully baked ideas that he should be thrilled to have had and been able to execute. Before he must, must, must cover this yolk in the sort of albumen that only can come from someone who (at least occasionally - Aronofsky has made great films before, and could again) can't let go of his worst instincts whenever he's closest to his highest level of greatness.

First, that greatness: As a horror film and a metaphor for Lawrence's suffocation by intrusions into her home and her marriage, mother! is essentially flawless - filled with wall-to-wall visual and sound design that should, for all intents and purposes, insist that even those who hated it acknowledge what a technical achievement it is, regardless of the aims that technical prowess has set out to accomplish. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent and would be running away with another Oscar were this not perhaps the most repulsive mainstream film in the last several years, but so it is, and so she won't. Bardem is strangely miscast but obviously a major talent, and mother! carries the odd distinction of being a film that lives or dies on the performances of its extras, which are pretty great all the way up and down the call sheet.

Now, on those horrible instincts:
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I don't know if I'm convinced that this film is about Aronofsky himself, or about his opinion of his work and its requiring the sabotage and utter destruction of his personal life in order to craft it. If it is... I mean, I just cannot imagine this director, judging by his above-average but certainly not breathlessly celebrated body of work, seeing himself as Bardem in this film. I can't, and I won't read the film this way, because despite never having met the man, I feel that I owe just about anyone more credit sight unseen that that - it would be a truly batshit thing to do on his part, perhaps the first film that warrants throwing someone in a rubber room and throwing away the key.

And so if we're going on that, we must read the film as being about great art in general and the sacrifices that must come in order for it to be created, the absorption of love and celebration directly into the artist's ego, despite the fact that a whole lot of the best art in history was made by people who were either intentionally or unintentionally alone, without the love and admiration of close or even in some cases far flung admirers and lovers to contribute to their ability to foster their ideas into their work. So as a concept, this Bardem stuff (for sake of brevity, let's call it that) all fails from any angle you may look at it, and Aronofsky's insistence on ending the film on the note (post-fire) that he does is a fucking boondoggle that only serves to sabotage how great much of it is. It was easy to dismiss Bardem as a beacon for an increasing number of increasingly frightening people [as a useful plot device] more than what this film is all about until Aronofsky decided that we MUST KNOW BEYOND ALL SHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT THIS FILM IS MUCH LESS ABOUT LAWRENCE THAN IT IS ABOUT THE CREATION OF WONDERFUL AND IMPORTANT ART, and oy, is that entire concept such a snooze.
So anyway, I don't know if that bad stuff totally torpedoes the great direction and acting in this film, because there's certainly far more of that if we're evaluating both on sheer quantity - and if asked, I guess I would have to answer that I sort of liked this moreso than I disliked it. It is overflowing with small and large pleasures that are rarely seen in studio filmmaking, let alone independent filmmaking, of this era. But I don't see much grace in sabotage of one's own good work, and as a result, I don't ultimately see much grace in mother!.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#77 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:17 pm

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Am I the crazy one here?

It seems obvious to me that Bardem's character is NOT supposed to be a stand-in for Aronofsky specifically or The Great Artist generally; he's God, an insecure God that cannot create paradise without filling it with a despoiling humanity whose sole redeeming quality is that they praise and worship him. He continually tries to create an existence in which he can have Paradise AND be recognized and loved for the greatness of his creation, and his obsessive vanity leads to the destruction of the world again and again. We have Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood, the birth and sacrifice of Christ, and Armageddon (along with who knows how many other biblical references I'm missing here). The whole thing is a batshit metaphor for one interpretation of the creation myth and the twisted logic behind it.

What am I missing that is leading multiple posters (and others in the greater film world) to these other conclusions, when I'm fairly certain this lens works sufficiently well to cover the film's bases without having to reach for an interpretation that turns Aronofsky into an arrogant jackass?

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#78 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:58 pm

One way to resolve that issue would be to give him literally any other profession that can’t be interpreted as intersecting with Aronofsky’s

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#79 Post by Dead or Deader » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:08 am

Image

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#80 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:27 am

We saw it in a quarter-full auditorium and were toward the front, but still noticed one walkout
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once baby parts were happening.
Gosh, I wish this film were better - the penultimate 20 minutes prior to the final two minutes are at an almost von Trier level of transcendent personal discomfort.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#81 Post by cdnchris » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:50 am

I'm still recovering from this and can't quite work out my thoughts on it but...

I loved how the camera is always with Lawrence in some way, sorta like a Dardenne film in some respects, following her from situation to situation, which at least gave the film a great pace and kept it moving. From a technical level I was in awe
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(as much as you can when one scene involves a disemboweled baby)
and admired how batshit crazy it was but, holy shit, this was ridiculous. I think I hated it, if just for hiw it bashes you over the head with its metaphors but even then I'm unsure because I was glued to my seat the whole time and can't deny being entertained by it. But I was dying laughing by the end. I'm not sure If that was the film's desired effect.

Still, I was so happy to see Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. I thought they were both great, particularly Pfeiffer, who I really miss in films (at least I haven't seen anything with her recently).

That F grade doesn't seem at all surprising.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#82 Post by phantomforce » Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:44 am

After a full day of letting this marinate in my head, I do think this is quite a special / unique little masterpiece. I admit, After the first 10 minutes the remaining 45 minutes were a bit of a chore to sit through, even though the editing and pacing in the 2 hours work very well and go by rather quickly. The last hour was very unexpected and i'm glad that the trailers misled me into thinking one thing and the film became an entirely different thing.
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I thought it was also very obvious that this is basically God, Unvirgin Mary / Mother Earth, Cain / Abel, Soddom, Gommorah, the Apocalypse, etc. and a rather brilliant move on DA's part to create this never ending torturous hell all under the roof of one house.
Mainstream Von Trier maybe, but it works and the performances and post production skills more than make up for the inconsistent but passionate direction.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#83 Post by DarkImbecile » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:53 am

I think the disconnect here seems to be between those
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who view the film as an allegory about the creation of art with biblical undertones and those who are transposing the relative significance of those elements. To me, the film works much more effectively as a criticism of the popular conception of God and his motivations with some nods to the selfish, destructive behavior of the obsessive artist than the other way around. But, to each their own! That said, I'd bet that there are more elements of mother! that are inexplicable using the great artist lens than those that are out of place with the biblical allegory interpretation.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#84 Post by D50 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:30 am

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There are people who have fantasized about getting all of the leeches together and flicking a zippo, and dropping it. A clean slate. I'd bet calling this The Shining meets Groundhog day wouldn't clear anything up to potential ticket buyers, but I half expected All work and no play makes Him a dull boy to be on his legal pad. Janis Joplin's song also came to mind - Take it!

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#85 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:20 pm

Reading it the way it seems increasingly clear that Aronofsky wants us to (that DarkImbecile sums up so well) makes it a more thematically acceptable film to me, but not necessarily a better one. Been thinking about what separates the best work of someone like Lars von Trier from this film and it’s that even when he’s at his most exploitative of his characters and trying to drive home his largest points, von Trier’s characters are never allowed to only be two-diensional pawns in service of his allegory. There is another level on which say, Antichrist (surely the easiest and best comparison to mother! in recent years) functions, where it still succeeds at being a compelling narrative about two people that would work on its own without all of the extra metaphorical baggage. mother! never manages to make Lawrence and Bardem interpretable as flesh and blood human beings, which leads to readings of the film like mine - trying to connect to it on anything approaching a human level leads to some (perhaps unintentional?) ugliness behind Aronofsky’s motivations for making the film. It’s an interesting glimpse at his subconscious that it’s so easy to plug what he wants us to see as
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a Mother Nature vs the followers of God into a somewhat repellant bit of businsss about the plight of a great artist. Coincidence? I’m not so sure he didn’t know what he was doing there.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#86 Post by Ribs » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:25 pm

Dead or Deader wrote:Image
As has been discussed here before, despite what the trades seem to think it means Cinemascore is just a survey that asks people how much the film they saw represents the film the marketing made them think they were going to see. It is not a direct barometer of the public's view of a picture's quality.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#87 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:29 pm

I still think F would be the grade were that the case, though.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#88 Post by Ribs » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:31 pm

Yeah, that'd be fair, it's just a pet peeve of mine to have it held up as this be-all end-all measure of public opinion. In general if people liked a movie they're going to answer positively regardless of whether or not the marketing was accurate so there is some considerable overlap. The statistic is basically designed so the studio can blame the marketing for not accurately portraying the film as being the reason people didn't show up.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#89 Post by cdnchris » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:39 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:There is another level on which say, Antichrist (surely the easiest and best comparison to mother! in recent years) functions, where it still manages to be a compelling narrative about two people that would work on its own without all of the extra metaphorical baggage.
When you mention this I realize that this is what irks me most about mother!: it's the fact that it doesn't even bother to really structure a story that can even be taken a little at face value. It's not subtle at all and wears its metaphors on its sleeve to where that's all you see. The first half actually structures an intriguing narrative that could work on its own, and I thought actually does, but once Bardem has actually created something BOOM it doesn't give a rat's ass anymore and doesn't even bother trying to hide what it's about in any sort of narrative. It goes balls-to-the-walls with its imagery and then that's it.

It's odd because I actually do admire how the film goes all out, and like I said I was beyond entertained and I was laughing at the absurdity of it all (and admired it completely on a technical level because it's incredible what he pulled off there in the last act) but man, this thing is ridiculous.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#90 Post by cdnchris » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:52 pm

Also, I have to push Pfeiffer again. I really thought she was great in this. It was a helluva good role and she just threw herself in it and I'd say she was the best thing about the film, followed by Harris.

And though it was stunt casting
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Kirsten Wiig
still seemed like a natural choice for that role as well.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#91 Post by swo17 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:22 pm

Well all these mentions of von Trier got me out of the house. I hope you're all happy.
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I either missed or didn't ascribe much significance to the Biblical references while watching, but what spoke to me most here was something I've been thinking about a lot lately as someone who often receives artistic inspiration but mostly keeps it to himself or fails to even create anything out of it. Often my inspiration is borne of suffering. I feel I have hurt or offended someone, and I reason that it will somehow make it better if I can transform it into my art. (Bardem specifically says something to this effect shortly after the one son is killed--"we have to make something good out of this" or thereabouts.) But who am I supposed to share the resulting art with? I find beauty in it, but no one else can possibly appreciate it in the same way that I do. I don't say that to be condescending--it just doesn't have meaning upon meaning layered into every nook and cranny for them like it does for me. It's almost as though it's not intended for them. If I were to commodify it, I could perhaps eke out a living that way. I might even gain some fame and fortune out of it. But something about that feels so exploitative to me, to the people in whose suffering it originated. (Recall also that Bardem has a line at one point about having to spend time with his fans to understand their suffering.) Is it possible that inspiration comes to me solely to bring beauty to my life so as to help me get over the hurt that I have suffered? (Note that at one point, Wiig's character directly calls Lawrence's "The Inspiration.") Where does this inspiration come from? Is it God? Was it only ever intended for me? Am I turning it into something else by sharing it, or worse, by commercializing it? Lawrence's last line to Bardem before torching the house has stuck with me--"You never loved me, you just loved how much I loved you. I gave you everything I had." Should that be enough, for the artist to be able to dance into eternity with the flame of thought that by some miracle entered into his head? Granted, this is probably an odd statement to be making in a heavily marketed, big studio film, though I have no doubt that Aronofsky has kept far more ideas to himself (I've sometimes thought of these ideas as aborted children) than he has ever translated into a film.

All of the stuff with the outside world creeping in played a lot to me like the final act of Fight Club, where it's shown how people miss the point of your idea and take it in directions that might even go so far as against the spirit of what you originally intended. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Aronofsky is disappointed with how some of his past work has been received, for instance, Requiem for a Dream being remembered more as a cool and/or harrowing drug culture movie than for its larger themes. Perhaps tellingly, a lot of the absurdist humor here really called that film to mind for me (particularly the Tappy Tibbons part of it). Personally, I loved this more the more off-the-rails it got. Though I gather I'm more disposed to metaphor than the average viewer. (Hilariously, some audience members watching this in my theater kept responding quite literally to all the characters that would keep entering the house uninvited--"Are you kidding me?" "That is so disrespectful," "Why is he painting her house?" and later, "aww, cute baby.")
I guess this all means I identify more with the artistic interpretation than the religious one, though it's worth noting that like half of Aronofsky's films before this one have been religious in nature (and the other half have at least kind of been about art/performance--oh, mother!)

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#92 Post by oldsheperd » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:02 pm

Almost went and saw this until my Dad canceled after he read audience reviews. The comparisons to Von Trier here make me think I saved 6 bucks.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#93 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:50 am

I think I may have loved this crazy fucking movie. I also think I may hate it a year from now. It's that sort of thing. Pure cinema of hysteria: the bravado and audaciousness with which it tries to bring it's "difficult subject matter" to a mainstream film is admirable, even if in the end you wonder if it isn't a bit shallow and heavy-handed in it's message. But considering people even on this board can't agree on a message, maybe it's not.

People point to Von Trier, and I see that... But ultimately this reminds of a modern day Ken Russell film, which I know to different people will read as a compliment or warning. But considering what happened when that man dipped his toe into religious critique-cum-pop hysteria, getting a Cinemascope F seems like this film is getting off easy: given the political climate, I could easily have seen this film ended with picketing and protests. Doubly so given Aronofosky's ethnicity.

Some notes:
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1) Someone mentioned the Dardenne influence, but I can easily see Aronofsky roving takes, and near-first-person subjective camera being influenced by Birdman and Son of Saul. There's also plenty of Children of Men in that last act.

2) I wonder what people think of it's conception of God and Goddess, and the way it perhaps dovetails with a more general allegory for men and women (No mistake, given one of the slideshows of horror at the end concerns the sudden, almost automatic enslavement of women)? A God that needs to create... and be worshiped for (and by) his creations. This oppossed to a Goddess who wants absolutely nothing to do with humanity. There's no fall of grace here as with God: she wants Man out of her house from the very beginning. Even before the film's scorched earth solution, it's vision of Man is unmistakably bleak.

3) Another point here: that if there was a Mother Goddess, powerful and equal to God in every way, it is by the very nature of Man and Religion to ultimately choose to marginalize and erase her presence. That, and what it says of society, is the horror of the film. Interesting point here is the way Michelle Pfeiffer character really initiates this. Maybe not so interesting if you read her strictly as Eve, however...

4) Satan. Pfeiffer strikes me very much as a Lucifer-esque character, her appearance even coinciding with the discovery of an underground section of the house. However, one of the refreshing aspects of the film was that her character, while menacing, is ultimately a petty, venal figure and ultimately innocuous to the ultimate trajectory of things. The film seems more concerned, and finds much more horror, in religion and it's devotees, and ultimately relegates a notion of Christian Hell to the margins. This is where one may detect Aronofsky's Jewish heritage. No need for fire and brimstone: hell is other people.

5) The film's pillaging/parodying of Rosemary's Baby in it's marketing is given a perverse punchline having seen the film: Forget Satan. A woman gives birth to the Son of God, and if anything the results are more horrifying.
Last edited by Cold Bishop on Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:57 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#94 Post by tenia » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:55 am

Ribs wrote:Yeah, that'd be fair, it's just a pet peeve of mine to have it held up as this be-all end-all measure of public opinion. In general if people liked a movie they're going to answer positively regardless of whether or not the marketing was accurate so there is some considerable overlap. The statistic is basically designed so the studio can blame the marketing for not accurately portraying the film as being the reason people didn't show up.
To me, the CS is indeed the barometer of whether a movie fits what the public thought it would find.
This being said, the CS score seems a good way to predict the BO for a given movie. I didnt think it was, but I tried it on Suicide Squad for instance and it was quite accurate.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#95 Post by knives » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:35 am

Ken Russell is definitely more likely to get me in here. Also it's a bit funny, given Cold Bishop's idea of this as a Jewish equivalent to some of the goals of The Devils, that this gets released just in time for the new year.
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It's really interesting to read all of these conflicting opinions (without having seen the film) though the current discussion have me thinking of an old Isaac Peretz poem called Monish and it makes me wonder if the Adam and Eve thing people are noticing and the 'devil' thing Cold Bishop mentions works if you view Harris and Pfeiffer as their mirrors, Sammel and Lillith.

Also, running with Aronofsky's environmentalism and the way that everyone seems to be treating J-Law as an Earth figure I wonder if there's a connection to the Maharal here. To explain, in one of his major works,
The Lion Cub, Maharal calls the earth built to be rebellious because it dislikes the damage humans do to it. As a result it causes man excessive work and poison to the degree humans distress it (whatever that all means). Without seeing the film I can't speak to a Jewish explanation of the baby (again running with what Cold Bishop said) so I guess I have to go see the film.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#96 Post by oldsheperd » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:22 pm

From what I'm reading on here it sounds a bit more Zulawski than Von Trier.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#97 Post by swo17 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:28 pm

No, there's much less screaming. It's very much working in the allegorical vein of Dogville or Melancholia but also in the shocking realm of Antichrist (though much less explicitly). I guess the Ken Russell mention is because it's absolutely bonkers and possibly a little blasphemous? Like Cold Bishop, I definitely also felt some Children of Men in there.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#98 Post by Cde. » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:35 pm

A lot has been spoken about the Biblical and environmental allegories at work here but I find the film most affecting as a really raw, honest break-up movie -
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an artist imagining the pain that he inflicted on someone who devoted themselves to him entirely, but was ultimately powerless to make herself anything more than his next source of creative energy when he moved on to someone else.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#99 Post by oldsheperd » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:35 pm

swo17 wrote:No, there's much less screaming. It's very much working in the allegorical vein of Dogville or Melancholia but also in the shocking realm of Antichrist (though much less explicitly). I guess the Ken Russell mention is because it's absolutely bonkers and possibly a little blasphemous? Like Cold Bishop, I definitely also felt some Children of Men in there.
Melancholia I can deal with. Dogville was dull and Antichrist, although I've never seen it, doesn't interest me much.

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Re: mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

#100 Post by Cde. » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:44 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
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I don't know if I'm convinced that this film is about Aronofsky himself, or about his opinion of his work and its requiring the sabotage and utter destruction of his personal life in order to craft it. If it is... I mean, I just cannot imagine this director, judging by his above-average but certainly not breathlessly celebrated body of work, seeing himself as Bardem in this film.
...
So as a concept, this Bardem stuff (for sake of brevity, let's call it that) all fails from any angle you may look at it, and Aronofsky's insistence on ending the film on the note (post-fire) that he does is a fucking boondoggle that only serves to sabotage how great much of it is. It was easy to dismiss Bardem as a beacon for an increasing number of increasingly frightening people [as a useful plot device] more than what this film is all about until Aronofsky decided that we MUST KNOW BEYOND ALL SHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT THIS FILM IS MUCH LESS ABOUT LAWRENCE THAN IT IS ABOUT THE CREATION OF WONDERFUL AND IMPORTANT ART, and oy, is that entire concept such a snooze.
I think it helps if you think of the movie as being set
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within the artist's mind. Many artists have a god complex. Aronofsky/Bardem doesn't have to be creating great and important art - what matters is that he feels he is. When he receives positive feedback his mind turns into a party. He enjoys the ego trip and rides the tide of the ideas until his life becomes chaotic again, and all through it he neglects the woman without whom he could never have reached this point of artistic flourishing.
I don't think we're meant to think Bardem is a great man or that what he's doing makes the suffering of others worthwhile. The point is his callousness, and our sympathies are meant to lie entirely with Lawrence. It is all about Bardem and not Lawrence, because for all she gave (and as she says, she gave everything, and still he wanted more), her suffering was only going to become a mantlepiece that powers him on through the next stage of life and creation. The all encompassing male ego of the self-appointed god artist overpowers anyone who comes close to it.
I think it's very important that, even though this is ultimately a story about Bardem and Lawrence is without agency, he frames the movie with her and wants us to empathise with her. The dialogue at the end of the movie
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about him not really loving her, but loving that she loved him rang painfully true, and I'd be very surprised if it's not drawn from personal experience.

I think this aspect of the film is not self-congratulatory but self-eviscerating on Aronofsky's part.

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