Darren Aronofsky's mother! has only been in theaters for three days, but the response has been interesting and significant. It got a modestly positive critical reaction following festival premieres, and didn't exactly light up the box office in its first weekend, but it seems that the majority of those who have seen it have really hated it. You might think that this "backlash" would hurt the feelings of the man responsible for the movie's reaction, but it seems that Aronofsky is taking it in stride. The writer/director recently said,
I think I knew it was going to be a lot of stuff. Anytime you do something that aggressive there are going to be people who enjoy it, who want to be on that roller coaster ride, and then there are others who say, 'Oh no, that was not for me.' It's a strange one. You see Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer and people are conditioned for a certain type of movie. And... we didn't do that type of movie. [Laughs] It's all good. I don't mind people are upset by the film because it's supposed to be a reflection and a cautionary tale of what's happening to the planet.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Darren Aronofsky was asked about the "extreme" reactions that mother! has received following the movie's release, and he makes it fairly clear that he totally understands where people are coming from. It would seem that the filmmaker has made the movie that he wanted to make - replete with major Oscar winning stars - but he also gets that his vision for a film may not exactly correspond with what a lot of film fans want from a Saturday night at the local theater.
The harshest criticism against mother! is that it is a rather unpleasant cinematic experience - though it's worth noting that this shouldn't be much of a surprise to those familiar with Darren Aronofsky's past work. He is an immensely talented filmmaker, but he also excels in making features that you can really only watch once (unless you have superhuman emotional strength). The ultimate example of this is Requiem For A Dream, but Pi and Black Swan aren't exactly easy-going features either.
Film critics, including our own Dirk Libbey, have defended mother!, and the horror/art house flick currently sports a 'Fresh' rating of 69 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but non-professional movie-goers haven't been so forgiving. On the same review site fans have rated it at 42 percent, and it is now notoriously one of the few films ever to receive an 'F' from CinemaScore (other titles include Killing Them Softly, The Box, I Know Who Killed Me, Bug, Wolf Creek, and Steven Soderbergh's Solaris). It probably doesn't have much of a box office future ahead of it, making only $7.5 million in its first few days of wide release, but it will certainly not be a title that will soon be forgotten.
You can now catch mother! in theaters nationwide.