This post contains spoilers
Conservative Christians aren’t usually fond of how Hollywood portrays them on-screen, and Mother! is no exception. In a review on Plugged In, the entertainment blog of Focus on the Family, reviewer Adam R. Holz calls it “The most scathing, contempt-filled attack upon [Christianity] that I have ever seen.”
The Humanist summarizes the plot as follows:
Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) is Mother Nature and her husband, Him (Javier Bardem), is God. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer’s characters — we never get their names — are Adam and Eve. Harris’s Adam is overindulgent. He drinks and smokes too much (and has a wound on his right side). Pfeiffer’s Eve is lecherous and eager to know the sexual details of Mother and Him’s relationship. Him invites Adam and Eve to stay at the couple’s home — carefully cultivated by Mother, who faintly protests them staying but eventually gives in. After some time, the Adam and Eve characters’ sons (Cain and Abel) arrive and, following scripture, one kills the other. Mother and Him host a wake for the dead son. The house is filled with strangers who eventually start trashing (as well as renovating) the place. Mother begs Him to make everyone leave, which he begrudgingly does. At this point, it begins pouring rain outside (the Flood).
The second half of the film is the New Testament. Mother is pregnant. Him — a famous poet suffering from severe writer’s block — finally finishes another poem. The media and Him’s fans begin showing up at the home. Mother tries to keep the aggressively intrusive guests out but fails. She again begs Him to make them leave but he loves their affections too much to turn them away. The house is overrun. Him’s fan-followers start looting, ripping off even chunks of the walls.
Neither theory — “mother” as a nature metaphor, “mother” as religious allegory — holds up all the way through, though if the film is interpreted through Christian lenses, let’s put it this way: the God-like figure, played by Javier Bardem is definitely not a nice God. Actually, he seems quite a bit insane.