This post contains spoilers for mother!
mother! director Darren Aronofsky has offered his thoughts on the polarizing response to the film, including its infamous "F" CinemaScore. The Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream filmmaker returned this month with another challenging offering in mother!, which was billed as a psychological horror film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. As those who have seen it found out, the end result is something else entirely - a commentary on the state of humanity told through (sometimes obvious) Biblical metaphors. Aronofsky found himself in a very dark place when developing the movie, and transferred his feelings about the world into a film that broke conventional and arguably transcended traditional film criticism.
It was a bold experiment that decidedly split audiences, with some praising it as brilliant, while others found Aronofsky's approach to be pretentious and unsatisfying. Despite generally positive reviews, mother! could not find traction at the box office, earning just $7.5 million in its opening weekend. Both Paramount and Lawrence have defended mother!, with the actress suggesting the reaction to the film was exciting. Now, it's Aronofsky's turn to offer his thoughts on the wide range of opinions his latest work has generated.
In an interview with The Frame, Aronofsky discussed mother!'s "F" rating on CinemaScore, revealing it was his intention all along to craft something uncompromising that hit viewers hard:
"What's interesting about that is, like, how if you walk out of this movie are you not going to give it an "F?" It's a punch. It's a total punch. And I realize that we were excited by that. We wanted to make a punk movie and come at you. And the reason I wanted to come is because I was very sad and I had a lot of anguish and I wanted to express it. Filmmaking is such a hard journey. People are constantly saying no to you. And to wake up every morning and get out of bed and to face all those no's, you have to be willing to really believe in something. And that's what I look for in my collaborators and what I pitched the actors I said, Look, this isn't going to be a popularity contest. We're basically holding up a mirror to what's going on. All of us are doing this. But that final chapter hasn't been written and hopefully things can change. And, to go back, the fact that it's going down right now and things are really falling apart in a way that is really scary."
As evidenced by a statement from Aronofsky handed out at press screenings, mother! is a rumination on the cruelty of mankind in which the house owned by Mother and Him is increasingly damaged by their uninvited guests. Many of the characters, including the ones played by Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Domhnall Gleeson, are meant to be allegorical in nature, symbolizing concepts like Adam and Eve or the story of Cain and Abel. The point of the film is that human beings are responsible for the ugliness in the world, which was designed with love from Mother Nature to be a paradise. Due to its abstract nature, it's hardly what one would call accessible, and general audiences have largely rejected it. Even those who appreciate the craftsmanship and risk behind mother! found it to be underwhelming, feeling there was little to the characters beyond their metaphors - preventing viewers from forming an emotional connection with the narrative.
That said, in an age where major Hollywood studios are driven by big name franchises and intellectual properties, it was refreshing to see Paramount roll the dice on Aronofsky's uncompromising vision and stand behind mother! as a fascinating experiment. Though the story obviously didn't work for everyone, it will go down as one of the most unique and memorable films of 2017 simply due to the conversation surrounding it. In a way, that's better than another easily-digestible genre offering that comes out and is forgotten in a couple of weeks.
Source: The Frame