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Last week, mother! became the latest film to score an F on the CinemaScore scale of audience experience. Only the 11th film to do so, director Darren Aronofsky's masterpiece of WTF film-making has certainly made its mark on the audience. So naturally, people are interested as to what Aronofsky feels about this occurrence, and as luck would have it, he's offered his feelings on the matter. As you'll see in the Aronofsky's most recent remakrs, he not only expected this to happen, he actually seems pretty thrilled. He explained why, thusly:
What's interesting about that is, like, how if you walk out of [mother!] 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.
\When you look back on Darren Aronofsky's history as a film-maker and the various projects he's either left or had to drastically alter to get them made, like Batman: Year One and The Fountain, respectively, your skin tends to be quite thick. For him, the journey wasn't so much about if people would like mother!, but more so about whether or not they'd react to it. To be sure, it's not a pleasant movie, as it assaults the audience with its message through some loud and harrowing set pieces. So Aronofsky understands that for the casual moviegoer who thinks of mother! as more of a traditional horror film, this isn't the film they were sold in the ads.
This is the main reason that the CinemaScore for mother! is sitting at an F, as the scale measures audience experience, and an unsuspecting audience is either going to love the surprise or be totally outraged. There's no real middle ground with mother!, and anyone who's seen the ads can tell you that. If Darren Aronofsky was more occupied with having the audience like or hate his film, much like a standard film viewing experience, then maybe he'd be more upset about joining the club that Steven Soderbergh's Solaris and William Friedkin's Bug also occupy. But for the man who is more concerned with making his movie and getting his message out there, his interview with The Frame has confirmed that this is more of a badge of honor.
Most importantly, Darren Aronofsky wants audiences to think about the message that mother! has to offer, rather than how it makes them feel. So rather than craft a film that's a one and done experience, Aronofsky made a film that's layered in meaning and subtext, which can be better enjoyed over time. So maybe there's a chance that audiences can meet the Noah director halfway after they've seen this latest film at least once or twice more, in order to let it really wash over them. It won't change the CinemaScore given to mother!, but it'll certainly help the film in the long run.
If you haven't experienced mother! for yourself, you can do so in theaters now. Or, if you'd rather seek out something more commercially pleasing, you can take a look at the rest of 2017's release schedule. But seriously, you should go see mother!, if only to become part of the conversation.