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:
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.