The secret is out: Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” is one of the most bonkers films you’re going to see in 2017. After months of secrecy in which details surrounding the film have remained under tight lock and key, Paramount finally premiered the movie at the Venice Film Festival and critics are losing their minds over the “berserk,” “bombastic,” and “sickening” third act. As Jessica Kiang of The Playlist writes in her review, “It can always get more insane, and it always does.”
“mother!” stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple living in a remote house in the countryside. He’s a poet suffering from writer’s block, while she’s a homemaker who spends her days restoring their home from a fire. Their lives are upended with the arrival of two uninvited guests, played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris. To say more would be to spoil the twists and turns Aronofsky has in store, but let’s just say the third act is more wild than you can predict.
“Aronofsky sends his characters into a nightmarish dreamscape that grows and evolves, particularly in the bonkers last third, which builds in pitch, scope, and sheer cinematic audacity,” writes IndieWire’s Ben Croll in his A- review. He later calls the film the most “daring” Aronofsky has ever made.
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Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast summarizes the experience in a simple line: “This is a film designed to fuck with you. And fuck with you it does…the torment brought upon Lawrence’s Mother is something else entirely. It is a sickeningly glorious mess.” He later calls the horror film the most “WTF movie” of 2017.
“The film’s demented final stretch is a madhouse bacchanal, a circus-like inferno,” adds The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy. “This quasi-hallucinatory, disco inferno-ish climax is multi-layered and ambiguous enough to accommodate multiple interpretations.”
Even critics who were not crazy about the film were still shocked and stirred by its last section. Owen Gleiberman of Variety called the film “dazzling on the surface” but rather simplistic underneath, comparing it to “a nightmare played as a hallucination played as a theater-of-the-absurd video game that seems to descend, level by level, to more and more extreme depths of depraved intensity.”
The Playlist calls it “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,” while Robbie Collin of The Telegraph says it’s a “shocking, surrealist, symphonically berserk feast of filth.”
The movie is clearly intended to cause a reaction, and the first round of reviews out of Venice prove it succeeds and then some in this regard. Audiences will be able to see what exactly happens in that nutty third act when Paramount opens “mother!” in theaters nationwide September 15.