Audiences at the Venice Film Festival don’t quite know what to make of director Darren Aronofsky’s new psychological thriller/pseudo-horror film “Mother!” The film premiered at the festival September 5.
Critics reported hearing a cacophony of boos and applause as the end credits rolled, and many of them shared some of that ambivalence — more than a few reviewers seemed to be at a total loss as to how to react.
There did seem to be a consensus, though, that the acting was beyond reproach – particularly from Aronofsky’s real-life girlfriend Jennifer Lawrence, who reportedly hyperventilated so intensely in one scene, she dislocated a rib.
Fans of Aronosky’s films won’t be surprised by this in principle, but they likely will be by the degree to which he shatters expectations in “Mother!” The film stars Lawrence and Javier Bardem as an unnamed couple who spend the film in a typical creepy mansion out in the middle of nowhere — but this is far from your usual haunted house flick.
Nor did the director market it as such. Taking a page from Alfred Hitchcock, who famously bought up all the copies of the novel “Psycho” before the movie came out so no one would know how it ended, Aronofsky was conspicuously mum prior to the release of “Mother!” at the festival. He was even forthcoming about how mum he wanted to be.
In a recent interview, he said only, “Most people, after they see the film, they don’t even wanna look at me,” and that “It’s a cruise missile shooting into a wall.”
Aronofsky is known for his history of peculiar and macabre cinema. Films such as “Black Swan,” “Requiem for a Dream,” and “Pi” thrive on darkness and psychological tension.
The last, his directorial debut, touches on kabbalistic secrets as the protagonist searches for a mathematical formula that holds the secrets of the universe.