Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” went off like a bomb in late summer 2017, incensing viewers for its unruly, free-flowing storyline, Biblical allegories, environmental protest, and chaotic violence. In the film, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a wife and husband who are also meant to represent Mother Earth and God (or whatever creation figure you ascribe to), and their sprawling house, as it becomes overrun by rowdy houseguests, turns into an apocalyptic nightmare-scape meant to represent the destruction of the planet and its resources.
Because of its weighty ambitions, the movie has inspired fierce reactions, even four years later. As Aronofsky revealed at a masterclass during Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival this weekend (via Variety), he still gets fervent missives from viewers about the movie, including in the form of hate mail.
“We were nervous about how controversial it was going to be, but then when you release a movie to the world, and there’s so many angry people, you start to wonder, ‘Hold on, what did I do?,’” said Aronofsky. “I get some of the best hate mail ever, which is great.”
The movie also stars Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer as Adam and Eve characters, and Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson as Cain and Abel figures.
According to Variety, “the filmmaker said that a particularly peeved punter somehow got hold of his number and texted him that they were going to be consuming coal and doing as much destruction as possible against the planet to spite him.”
“But also out of that, the type of excitement and passion you get from other people that really connect with the film reminds you why you’re doing it,” said Aronofsky.
Though it continues to enjoy a cult following, “Mother!” ended up being only a middling success, grossing just under $45 million worldwide on a $30 million budget — high for an original, adult-skewing film with this level of ambition. Domestically, it made less than half of its global take.
Aronofsky’s next film is “The Whale,” starring Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound man who regrets his life choices and tries to mend fences with his 17-year-old daughter. It’s based on the play by Samuel D. Hunter, and will be released by A24 at a later date.