Be warned before you go any further — if you're looking to avoid spoilers for Darren Aronofsky's latest, mysterious film, Mother!, then this article is not the place for you. It's impossible to talk about Mother! without describing the increasingly crazy events in its story, so spoilers will be abundant here. Got it? Good. Now, without further ado, it's time to discuss this film in all of its intense, wild glory, especially everything what the ending of Mother! actually means.
Some background: The basis idea for the movie goes like this — a fragile, introverted woman (Jennifer Lawrence) grows increasingly disturbed as her outgoing poet husband (Javier Bardem) allows more and more people into their home. First, there's a married couple who are basically the world's worst house guests, constantly spilling things and going into rooms they're explicitly told to avoid. Then, there are the couple's two adult children, who cause serious, violent mayhem. When things get out of hand, Lawrence's character makes Bardem throw everyone out, and for a while, things quiet down.
But later on when Lawrence's Mother is nine months pregnant, more guests appear without her knowledge, all there to meet Him, who's just published a highly acclaimed book. Things escalate fast, and before long literally hundreds of people have stormed the home, much to the man's delight and the woman's horror. The guests proceed to destroy the house — and kill each other — as violently as possible, leading Mother to struggle to find safety and comprehend what's going on. The ending of the movie truly begins when Mother gives birth to a baby boy, and the man takes the baby without her permission into the crowd.
And that's where things get really disturbing. The baby is accidentally killed by the crowd, and while they're at first upset, they proceed to.... eat the body. Yes, cannibalism occurs in Mother!, which outrages Lawrence's heartbroken character as much as you. After watching her baby murdered and eaten, Mother goes on a killing spree, and then is attacked by the mob. Her husband rescues her, but she proceeds to light the house — and thus, everyone in it — on fire. Yet, after it all burns, she's somehow still alive (if horribly burned), while the husband is fine, and cradling her. She says she has nothing left to give him, but he takes her heart (yes, literally), causing her to disintegrate into ashes. The man holds the heart and causes a glimmering stone to appear within it, which he adds to a growing collection. And then, things go back to the very beginning, with a new woman playing the role of Mother and the story repeating itself.
So, yeah, this movie is totally bonkers. But what does that whole ending actually mean? In September, Aronofsky told NME that the meaning of the film as a whole is "an allegory. Think about our home, where we are and then reduce that to a small house. She [Jennifer Lawrence] is mother. Not our individual mothers, just our mother. That’s what it’s about.” There's also a major religious connection with the film and its ending, as Him is clearly meant to symbolize God, with Mother as Mother Earth, or possibly the Virgin Mary. The events that occur throughout the film have similarities with biblical events like the flood and the story of Cain and Abel, as well as the birth and death of Jesus, aka the baby. Mother suffers over and over again, giving everything she has — her home, her husband, her baby — to others until she has nothing left to give, and the man takes it all.
So the ending, really, just puts a cap on all that, with Mother giving her final gift — her heart — to him, which he accepts without hesitation. She's destroyed, but he is alive thanks to her, and can begin the story over with someone new. If that all reminds you of a little story called The Giving Tree, it should; Aronofsky even tweeted a photo of the beloved book as a recommendation for audiences planning on seeing Mother!
Of course, a movie like this is supposed to be open for interpretation, so analyze the ending as you will. With this kind of insane storyline, if you think you know all the answers after seeing the movie, there's a good chance that you're probably doing something wrong.