Is Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘Mother!’ Amazing or Terrible?

While many filmmakers aim to please and simply entertain audiences, Darren Aronofsky is not one of them. His new movie, mother!, recently premiered, and the internet could not be more divided on how it feels about it.

Like his other works, mother! is dark and disturbing, to say the least. But there are plenty of other elements that have critics and audiences talking. Here’s what they have to say.

Jennifer Lawrence leads the way

Jennifer Lawrence being photographed on a phone as she talks to someone in front of her.

Jennifer Lawrence | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Actress Jennifer Lawrence stars in the film and was heavily featured in the trailer and other promotional materials. This is no surprise, given that many feel the Oscar winner has yet to make a misstep when it comes to her career choices over the past several years.

Three other big names accompany Lawrence in her eponymous role. Javier Bardem stars as her husband, and Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer play a couple that comes to stay with them.

Is it amazing or terrible?

Jennifer Lawrence’s mother! has been divisive for fans and critics. | Paramount Pictures

Critics and audiences alike are completely divided as to their opinions of this film. The adjectives used to describe it range from “strange and disorienting” to “wildly fun,” and that’s just the beginning.

What’s more, the film is so divisive that it seems you either love it for its daring and complex nature, or you completely hate Aronofsky’s extremism. For example, Rex Reed’s Observer headline reads, “Mother! Is the Worst Movie of the Year, Maybe Century.”

It’s not for everyone

Even those who loved the movie had to acknowledge its problems. Among them was one surprising voice.

Chef Anthony Bourdain took to Twitter to say that while he found the film to be “dark” and “brilliant,” he thinks it will “upset the f*** out of people.” Similarly, many critics who appreciated mother! admitted to having mixed reactions.

Dueling scores

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem turn their heads to the side.

Critics can’t seem to agree on whether the movie is a hit or not. | Paramount Pictures

This mixed reaction is evidenced by very different rankings of two distinct critique sites. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a moderate “certified fresh” critic’s rating (though audiences like it a bit less).

Then, there’s CinemaScore, where mother! sits on the homepage wearing a badge of disgrace: an “F.” But the studio is apparently fine with that. In an official statement from Paramount, an executive acknowledges the film wasn’t playing it “safe,” adding, “It’s okay if some people don’t like it.”

The star chimes in

Like Bourdain, star Lawrence gets that the film brings about strong reactions on both sides. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she said about mother!, “That’s what so exciting — everybody is going to feel something. It’s going to create a conversation.”

Lawrence, who is dating Aronofsky, had nothing but wonderful things to say about the director, calling him and the movie “brave.” But she won’t let much about the plot of the film itself slip, instead citing various metaphors. When pressed, she replied, “It could be about the creation and the end of the universe.”

That stylized title

Unlike his beau, Aronofsky isn’t in the public eye very frequently. But while doing press for mother!, he’s had a lot to say.

Aside from addressing the Biblical allegories of the film, Aronofsky discussed how he came up with the title for the film: “The very first thing I wrote — before I started on the script — were the six letters of ‘mother’ and then I paused for a second. I remember this so clearly: I pressed shift-1 and put the exclamation point. That title was there before I wrote a word,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

The other star that shines

Michelle Pfeiffer stands in front of an opened door.

Michelle Pfeiffer has earned praise for her performance in mother!. | Paramount Pictures

As the eponymous character and supposed “muse” of the director, Lawrence has been at the center of almost every conversation about mother!. But one reviewer brings attention to the other female lead, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.

In her piece for Vulture, Angelica Jade Bastién calls Pfeiffer “the only actor in the film able to give her role real-world weight without sacrificing the mythological nature that undergirds its construction.” Among other heaping praise for the actress, Bastién alleges that “[w]atching Pfeiffer is witnessing a master at work.”

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