Apart from a few industry whispers, no one really knew what to expect from Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming film mother!, other than that it stars Jennifer Lawrence as a wife who must contend with some very unwanted guests. Based on the white-knuckle trailer, and a cryptic tweet from Anthony Bourdain, we had a hunch that this might be Aronofsky’s most audacious work yet, and considering that this is the same man who gave us the feverish cinematic nightmares, Requiem for A Dream and Black Swan, that’s saying something. It didn’t help that the mother! marketing campaign has been one of the most secretive in recent memory. But now that the film officially had its first press screening in Venice over the weekend, the secret’s out.
#mothermovie it’s purely amazing, scaring and something that needs to be seen hundred times to absorb it. Majestic Aronofsky.— Elisa🌻 (@ElisaAnnabel) September 5, 2017
Mother! (Aronofsky): Goya’s Disasters of War via What To Expect When You’re Expecting. My insides have turned to porridge. #Venezia74— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) September 5, 2017
Mother! - Intense. Breathtaking. Darren indicts all of humanity in one of the most heart-pounding, incredible cinematic experiences. Whoa.— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 5, 2017
Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a twisted, often inspired, often insane fever dream of a film. #Venezia74— Joe Utichi (@joeutichi) September 5, 2017
It looks like mother! is jus as polarizing as we thought. According to reports from those who were there, the film was met with equal amounts cheers and jeers. We should note that the act of booing a film at a European film festival isn’t uncommon, and shouldn’t be seen as a direct correlation to whether or not a movie sucks. The Tree of Life for instance, was booed heavily when it premiered at Cannes before going to earn an Oscar nod for Best Picture.
Aronofsky’s films may not always hit the mark, but they’re never middling. They elicit fierce reactions and inspire prolonged debate, and based on the twitter reaction following this weekend’s screening, it sounds like mother! will continue in that tradition.
Either way, it looks like Aronofsky’s clandestine approach worked. Ever morsel about mother! is being rabidly consumed and scrutinized as it barrels its September 15 release. How mother! plays with audiences could eventually determine whether or not it gains any awards traction, but any movie that features Lawrence in nearly every frame should never be discounted, no matter how out bonkers it might be.
As for the mixed reactions, Aronofsky is nonplussed. “I think it’s a very, very strong cocktail. Of course there are going to be people who are not going to want that type of experience. And that’s fine,” he said at a Venice press conference. “I’ve been very clear that this is a roller coaster, and only come on it if you’re prepared to loop the loop a few times.”