Jennifer Lawrence’s latest film, the Darren Aronofsky horror film mother!, debuted at the Venice Film Festival on Monday and left critics reaching for their WTFs.
“mother! Review: Jennifer Lawrence Goes Insane in the Most WTF Movie of the Year,” reads the headline on Marlow Stern’s review for The Daily Beast.
“If the only thing we wanted, or expected, a horror film to do was to get a rise out of you — to make your eyes widen and your jaw drop, to leave you in breathless chortling spasms of WTF disbelief — then Darren Aronofsky’s mother! would have to be reckoned some sort of masterpiece,” writes Owen Gleiberman for Variety.
Starring Lawrence as the title character, and featuring a supporting cast that includes Javier Bardem (who plays a character named “Him” in the film), Ed Harris (Man), Michelle Pfeiffer (Woman), and Domhnall Gleeson, mother! focuses on a couple whose lives are interrupted by a series of uninvited guests. Aronofsky’s film, which he also wrote, is being hailed as a religious allegory, a psychological thriller, and much, much more.
mother! next screens at the Toronto International Film Festival before arriving in theaters on Sept. 15. Read on for more breathless reviews.
Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast
“In mother!, the latest film from director Darren Aronofsky, [the exclamation point] comes laced with similar portent, and as the title credits roll, separates from its subject before both vanish into the ether. Are you scared yet? Well, how about an augury of death to top things off: the image of its star, Jennifer Lawrence, burning in flames. The message is clear: this is a film designed to f— with you. And f— with you it does.”
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“mother! is 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. You could say that Aronofsky is drawing on The Shining (the isolated setting and Bardem’s stony resentment) and also on Rosemary’s Baby, the greatest of all paranoid horror films. If so, however, he heads right for that film’s in-your-face, party-with-the-devil final scene (‘Hail Satan!’), which director Roman Polanski took an entire two-hour movie to work up to. That movie was a bad-dream vision of pregnancy in which Rosemary paid the price for her trust and naïveté. But what, exactly, is the sin Lawrence is paying for?”
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“Writer-director Darren Aronofsky wants to have his commercial cake and chomp down on some vexing personal issues, too, in mother!, a very Rosemary’s Baby-like intimate horror tale that definitely grabs your attention and eventually soars well over the top to make the bold concluding statement that, for some creators, art is more important than life. How the film’s compelling star Jennifer Lawrence may feel about this sentiment is another matter, but this is a tale that, like any number of fanciful genre outings, both pulls you in with its intriguing central dramatic situation and pushes you out with some mightily far-fetched plot contrivances.”
Ben Croll, Indiewire
“Come for the house that bleeds; stay for the reflections on parenthood and the difficulty of living with fame.”
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
“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: !!!!!!!!!”