It's the movie everyone's talking about.
Darren Aronofsky's new film Mother! is out now – you may have loved it, you may have hated it, but one thing that can't be denied is it burns into the consciousness.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem lead the cast of a film that, outwardly at least, is a story of home invasion. However, those who've seen the movie will know it heads down a hellhole of weirdness in its second half, building to an apocalyptic feast of horrible imagery.
But what does it all mean? Given the movie refuses to offer an easy explanation we've put forward some of our own crazy interpretations. There will be debates...
SPOILER WARNING! GO NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN MOTHER!
1. It's a story about going mad
According to Aronofsky 60% of the movie is positioned from the point-of-view of Lawrence's character (simply called 'Mother' in the movie). This puts us firmly in her headspace as the beloved home she shares with Bardem's poet husband (named 'Him') is at first invaded by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer ('Man' and 'Woman').
Through the subjective camerawork we get to witness firsthand the collapse of the paradise that 'Mother' has established, one that builds in increments from personal invasion (Pfeiffer questioning why she doesn't want kids) to full-blown terror come the end, as hordes of people tear down the building around her.
2. It's a Biblical thing
Stick with us. 'Mother' has clearly established her personal Eden in the form of the isolated house she shares with 'Him'. The arrival of Harris and Pfeiffer could be seen as the deadly snake entering this paradise – but are they actually the enemy?
Is the snake actually Bardem's writer's-blocked poet who appears to care less about his wife and more about his popular reputation? Certainly towards the end of the movie, 'Him' appears to take great pride in the many fans who descend upon the house and tear it to pieces.
Aronofsky has previous form in this field (his previous movie was Biblical epic Noah), so there may be more than a grain of truth in this.
3. It's about mothers and fathers
Towards the end of the movie things become truly horrific as 'Mother's' new baby is sacrificed to the baying mob. It's been steadily established throughout the first half that 'Mother' has been creating an environment suitable for raising a child in – but 'Him' appears to be less-than-interested, consumed by his writer's block.
The hideous climax to the movie could therefore be making a statement about the maternal instinct and the protective nature of mothers towards their own childen. The very last shot of the movie as 'Mother' gifts her heart to 'Him' suggests it's the nature of a mother to sacrifice themselves, physically and emotionally.
Controversial? Hey, nobody said this was easy!
4. It's about husbands and wives
Is it always the responsibility of the husband to be in the driving seat? Is it always the role of the wife to be homemaker? Given they don't have actual names, Lawrence and Bardem's characters become defined by their roles: she wants a warm, loving family home, he craves success and fame.
The end of the movie as 'Mother' turns to ashes and the clock resets (Bardem survives, the burned-down house restores itself and the film ends with a completely different woman waking up in bed) suggests these gender patterns will go on and on, until some miracle changes the process.
5. Wait for it... It's about all of the above
Perhaps the real power of Aronofsky's movie is the way it dementedly churns all of the above ingredients together, pushing all our buttons on the nature of parents, emotions and more besides.
Either way, the film has generated serious discussion and doesn't slip from the mind easily.