Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s latest flick, mother!, has come under fire from audiences and critics. Its debut at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month was left stained by audience members who booed the film after its initial screening. While many critics and review aggregators such as Rotten Tomatoes had mixed reactions to the film, some responses truly make their disdain for mother! known.
CinemaScore gave the film a rating of F on an A+ to F scale, making it one of less than twenty films to earn the dishonorable rating. Rex Reed of British publication The Observer gave the film zero stars (out of five) and even went as far to describe it as the “worst movie of the century.”
Reading these reviews and stories about the film seemed puzzling, due to the overwhelming consensus among everyday moviegoers that the film left them very satisfied with what they witnessed.
mother! is the story of a married couple who live seemingly disconnected from the outside world. A struggling author (Javier Bardem) who is facing a severe case of writer’s block has ventured to an old, large home in the country with his wife (Jennifer Lawrence) hoping to find a source of inspiration.
When a fan of the writer’s work (Ed Harris) arrives at their home along with his wife (Michelle Pfieffer), chaos ensues, culminating in an onslaught of unwanted guests and drama, all to the distress of Jennifer Lawrence’s character, as well as the delight of the writer, who finds inspiration within the chaos. (Note: all of the characters in this film are unnamed).
For all of its surrealism and dark undertones, the brilliance of mother! is delivered almost exclusively by Jennifer Lawrence’s stellar performance in the leading role, as she continues to prove herself as one of the most gifted young actresses in Hollywood. Lawrence delivers an emotional, passionate performance that carries this film forward and captures the viewer’s emotions so well that, by the end of the film, you will be moved to tears by her performance. As a general warning, while most of the film is pretty graphic, the last half hour of the film is particularly difficult to watch (this film is certainly not for the faint of heart).
The film’s plot, although abstract, will have your mind racing to near Interstellar or Inception levels. Its themes regarding the power and fragility of mother nature, love, and obsession will have you leaving the theater wanting to bang your head against a wall (in a good way).
The main theme revolves around the relationship between the Earth (whom Lawrence’s character represents) and its people, and the abuses that they put her through. The film earns its R rating many times over, as the film makes use of intense violence and disturbing content to shock its audience.
All in all, mother! is a film that did not deserve nearly as much criticism as it received. For this moviegoer, and those alike, it was a fascinating, mind-blowing theater experience that will stand out as one of the best psychological thrillers in recent years.