A turd by any other name would leave a stench as fetid.
As one who has at the very least enjoyed 3/4 of the auteur’s work, or found it formally imaginative, and therefore worth watching for its ambition alone, I was disappointed, almost to the point of anger, by this latest, pretentious, boiling-over mess.
Somewhere in the middle of the apocalyptic climax, as it ratcheted up the cartoonish intensity, bludgeoning the audience with its pompously crude symbolism, I couldn’t help but think of “Mother!,” as a college campus experimental theater production where everybody is aware of its amateurishness except the blowhard director who thinks they’re a budding genius and scoffs at everybody else’s eye-rolling, dismissing them as not understanding “Art.”
A shame that two actors as talented as Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence, who do their damnedest to pour some soul into this paint-by-numbers allegorical clusterfuck, are utterly wasted like a couple sprays of Lysol in a steaming shit-bombed outhouse. A turd by any other name would leave a stench as fetid.
Some will call the film a dark comedy, and I did find myself chuckling during a few scenes, but I never felt that those making the film were in on the joke; the helter skelter loud earnestness with which symbols were dispatched made me feel that Aranofsky was totally oblivious to how ugly his creation would be, and I cringed while I laughed, feeling almost embarrassed for him as he unwittingly turned his legend into a maudlin cautionary tale, a wunderkind analog to Tommy Wiseau, of “The Room,”fame. Like “The Room,” it is almost certainly destined for Cult Film status. I know that I was not averted from going to see “Mother!” by its polarized critical reception; it may have even ensured that I would.
There is no doubt in my mind that Aranofsky has talent, as we’ve seen glimpses of some unholy progeny of Kubrick and Polanski in earlier films. Yet he’s always wanted for grace, possessing a heavy, hammy style that it seemed he would naturally grow out of. However, I fear the worst may be happening, as this production has all the tell-tale signs of an artist whose well has run dry and offers us instead a treatise on “The Bible and The Nature of Creation,” a creative bankruptcy disguised as Meta Magnum Opus.
-Alejandro Magaña, October 2017