Darren Aronofsky’s mysterious new film, “mother!’ premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and reviews are finally in — and we’re in for a ride.
With reviews amounting to 100 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, critics are calling it “Aronofsky’s most bombastic, ludicrous and fabulous film,” as well as “serious work of capital A art” while easily being “the most ambitious film to come out of a major studio” since Stanley Kubrick died. Quite simply, it’s the “best film of Aronofsky’s career.”
“‘mother!’ uncoils from a murderously tense, tricky and claustrophobic first hour into some of the most sustained escalating insanity (and scorchingly brilliant filmmaking) ever to burn down a cinema screen,” The Playlist’s Jessica Kiang wrote. “Seldom has a title ever earned its exclamation point in more emphatic fashion. In fact it deserves a few more, so here they are: !!!!!!!!!”
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris, the Paramount Pictures drama reveals how a couple’s (Lawrence and Bardem) relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
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The film will hit U.S. theaters on Sept. 15.
See reviews below.
Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast:
“Unlike ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’–or ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ for that matter, another work exploring the gaslighting of a pregnant woman–Aronofsky’s film is ultimately concerned with the parasitic nature of the male artist; how he drains the lifeblood from all those around him in the name of creativity and ego fuel. In that sense, it’s a remarkably self-absorbed film, and one that, allegorical or not, feels like an agonized mea culpa from the artist (Aronofsky) to those in his personal orbit.”
Brian Formo, Collider:
“mother!’ isn’t quite as fascinating as it thinks it is, and the hellish setting perhaps goes too far, but it is relentless and it sure is something that needs to be experienced. It’s extremely adventurous and is willingly open to both praise and snickers. What was fascinating, for me, was how the audience I saw it with reacted so primal, not too different from the freakish audience in the movie. I was surrounded by shrieks, yawns, laughter, smiles and a man who yelled ‘f— you’ at the screen as soon as the credits started. You’ll either get something you want from ‘mother!’ or you’ll feel like you were robbed. And I think that’s pretty exciting for the current studio climate. Nothing is safe about ‘mother!’ And that’s thrilling for an artist like Aronofsky.”
Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily:
“Darren Aronofsky’s churning fever dream ‘mother!’ is a devouring and restless experience: a creative surge that’s like the lancing of a boil, releasing a torrent of despair and disgust for the greedy chaos of society today as well as a self-loathing portrait of the artist as an emotional succubus. Part-couched as a horror but also a wicked allegory, this is as formally provocative as it is thematically insistent, draped in horror tropes and religious overtones.”
David Sexton, Evening Standard:
“‘Mother!’ is filmed with loving oppressiveness, only using three basic, handheld camera shots: seeing what Jennifer Law sees, looking over her shoulder or into her face, for the whole film. Arty! And scary. But Jennifer Law’s incredible face, her unique emotional honesty, absolutely repay this ceaseless gaze.”
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist:
“In through the nose, out slowly through the mouth…If you are not familiar with the Lamaze breathing technique for women in labor, acquaint yourself with it before donning your hazmat suit and embarking on Darren Aronofsky’s ‘mother!’ which uncoils from a murderously tense, tricky and claustrophobic first hour into some of the most sustained escalating insanity (and scorchingly brilliant filmmaking) ever to burn down a cinema screen. An incendiary religious allegory, a haunted-house horror, a psychological head trip so extreme it should carry a health warning and an apologia for crimes of the creative ego past and not yet committed, it’s not just Aronofsky’s most bombastic, ludicrous and fabulous film, spiked with a kind of reckless, go-for-broke, leave-it-all-up-there-on-the-screen abandon, it is simply one of the most films ever. Seldom has a title ever earned its exclamation point in more emphatic fashion. In fact it deserves a few more, so here they are: !!!!!!!!!”
Travis Johnson, Film Ink:
“It’s a dense, delirious, playful and serious work of capital A art, and easily the most ambitious film to come out of a major studio since… well, let’s just say it: since Kubrick died. It’s the most interesting and intellectually rigorous religious film since ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’ and easily the best film of Aronofsky’s career. The closest analogues that come to mind are Jodorowsky’s earlier works, especially ‘The Holy Mountain,’ but it’s going to take time and several viewings to figure out if that’s a worthy comparison – that it comes to mind at all speaks volumes, though.”
Ben Croll, IndieWire:
“‘mother!’ begins as a slow burn and builds toward a furious blaze. Awash in both religious and contemporary political imagery, Darren Aronofsky‘s allusive film opens itself to a number of allegorical readings, but it also works as a straight-ahead head rush. Not just another baroquely orchestrated big-screen freak-out in the vein of “Black Swan” (though it is very much that), the film touches on themes that — if too hazily figurative to be in any way autobiographical — at least tread on factors in the director’s own life.”