The best worst reviews of Jennifer Lawrence's new film

Alex Barrett
Wednesday 20 September 2017 08:45
Showbiz
Picture:(Paramount Pictures)

Jennifer Lawrence's latest film, Mother!, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky has received a mixed critique from reviewers.

There is a single consensus, in that this film has been marketed poorly to a mainstream audience who will most likely not enjoy it.

Most reviews paint it as an allegorical film that will only appeal to a certain type of viewer - we've all got that one friend who gives us 600 unasked-for words on why Black Swan was a metaphor for expectations of femininity, mostly likely cribbed verbatim from the New Yorker.

Anyway, here's what the critics are saying about Mother!:

This delusional freak show is two hours of pretentious twaddle that tackles religion, paranoia, lust, rebellion, and a thirst for blood in a circus of grotesque debauchery to prove that being a woman requires emotional sacrifice and physical agony at the cost of everything else in life, including life itself.

That may or may not be what Aronofsky had in mind, but it comes as close to a logical interpretation as any of the other lunk-headed ideas I’ve read or heard. The reviews, in which a group of equally pretentious critics frustratingly search for a deeper meaning, are even nuttier than the film itself.

Nothing about Mother! makes one lick of sense as Darren Aronofsky’s corny vision of madness turns more hilarious than scary. With so much crap around to clog the drain, I hesitate to label it the 'Worst movie of the year' when 'Worst movie of the century' fits it even better.

It’s not exactly a popcorn movie, let’s put it that way.

This is Aronofsky's most openly insane work since Pi, a deranged delirium that successfully pulls the viewer into another reality, but when we come back, I’m not sure we learn anything, or feel anything, other than 'that was intense.'

It’s easy enough to start following Mother! on this crazed journey. But eventually the path has to lead somewhere. It doesn’t have to go anywhere believable or deliver standard horror or take viewers where they expect. It just has to go somewhere, anywhere.   

Instead, as it becomes more over-the-top, the film also becomes more pompous. The horror and religious references are handled without a hint of irony. Aronofsky loads on themes.

If you gave an extremely bright fifteen-year-old a bag of unfamiliar herbs to smoke, and forty million dollars or so to play with, "Mother!" would be the result.

All of that makes the film seem ambitious. But it also makes it a movie that’s about everything and nothing.

You might say that it’s Aronofsky’s (confessional?) vision of what it’s like being married to a famous egocentric artist. But you could also say that Mother! is so intent on putting an undeserving woman through the terrors of the damned that there’s a residue of misogyny to its design.

Toss in a twist ending worthy of M. Night Shamyalan (a good or bad thing? Maybe both), and you’ve got a head-trip horror movie with something for everyone — except, perhaps, for those who want to emerge feeling more haunted than assaulted.

Aronofksy shows plenty of visual flair. If you wanted someone to depict the rise and fall of humanity in an afternoon or to dramatise the Book of Revelations in your living room, he’d probably be the director you’d choose.

That, though, doesn’t excuse the self-indulgence and mounting silliness of the filmmaking here. Lawrence gives a very brave performance but it’s ultimately in a losing cause. 'Get them out of the house!' she implores again and again as the armies of strangers try to make themselves at home. You can fully understand her exasperation.

It's too bad it doesn't work.

Mother!, for this viewer, felt long and punishing; artful yet self-sabotaging, eventually crumbling. I never looked away - but I never want to see it again.

Even Lawrence's magnetic powers can't keep "Mother!" from going off the rails, which at first occurs cumulatively, then in a mad rush during the film's outlandish climax.

Unlike the mansion it's set in, it's a small, hammered-together thing, and it can't bear all this meaning and metaphor.

It tries so desperately to be crazy and disturbing that all we can see is the effort made and the money spent. No wonder there's an exclamation mark in its title. Aronofsky just doesn't know when to quit.

More from the Independent: Mother!, Venice Film Festival review: Jennifer Lawrence suffers for her art in self-indulgent fable

More from the Independent: Mother!: An alternate reading of Darren Aronofsky's film as a portrait of anxiety

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