Jennifer Lawrence's new film mother! is a mystery to those that haven't seen it. (Unless they have Googled the plot, but even then, there remain things unknown until you witness it yourself.) Going into the film without any expectation only to be revealed the ugliness and insanity that takes place in the film is an experience. Once you see the film, you have answers — but not all the answers. No matter how observant you are, or how many religious studies classes you took in college, some things remain unknown. Like the yellow powder in mother!, the seeming-to-be medicine Lawrence takes whenever she has what can only be described as an episode in the first half of the film.
(Spoilers for the entire plot of mother! are forthcoming.)
The plot of mother! is very much like a Creative Writing major in their first year of college. By that, I mean it uses a ton of metaphors — but this film is using them in a much greater way than "All the world's a stage," (sorry, Will). The entire plot is arguably three (maybe more?) metaphors that I don't even fully understand. You have the biblical metaphor (that is heavily used, but never said out loud). You have the Earth metaphor, which Lawrence has spilled about during her media tour for the film. And you have the relationship between art and love... and adoration? Maybe? Regardless, the metaphors are there, and when you find one, it feels like a true come-to-Jesus moment (no religious pun intended). And because of this, any remaining mystery at the end of the 115 minutes feels like you totally missed something.
And that's where the yellow powder comes into play.
In the first half of the film, arguably comparable to the Old Testament in the Bible, Lawrence's character, mother, is seen taking a yellow powder with a glass of sink water a handful of times. It happens in more stressful episodes in her day-to-day life — as if the entire film isn't just one ball of anxiety for the oft ignored wife of Him (Javier Bardem). Her momentary blurs that occur leave her running for the bathroom, where she keeps this yellow powder in a medicine cabinet. The ringing that she hears (and the audience hears, because sound is so important in this film) intensifies until, gulp, the last drop of the mixed powder and sink water is swallowed. It brings her back to "normal," a word that really doesn't exist in the film. And so she carries on.
Then mother becomes pregnant in a way that would put OBGYNs out of business. She just knows. mother knows she is with child after having semi-make-up sex with Him, and immediately throws the yellow unnamed powder in the toilet, flushing it as if it was never needed before.
With that moment in mind, the saffron-colored powder being tied to her pregnancy, you have to wonder if the powder (it's not even confirmed to be a medicine, but by the look of the bottle and the usage of it, it feels safe to say) is somehow related to her fertility. Could it be something that she took for these episodes? It's power potentially harming the fetus growing inside of her? Or is it something completely unrelated... like the farmhouse version of Alka-Seltzer?
It would be easy to brush off something like this if mother only used the yellow powder once in the film. But it is the fact that she very clearly relies on its use to relieve her of her episodes that make it much more important. Unfortunately, Darren Aronofsky has not let on to what it is and so for that, it must remain a mystery.