'Sickeningly glorious': Rave reviews for Darren Aronofsky's mother!

Ben Arnold

Darren Aronofsky appears to have nailed it with his bonkers horror movie ‘mother!’ – if by ‘it’ you mean grotesque, full-blown madness.

Reviews for the ‘Black Swan’ helmsman’s latest are out, following its gala screening at the Venice Film Festival, and they have left the critical community aghast, but fortunately not speechless.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple living in a huge house in a remote location.

Bardem is a novelist with writer’s block, with Lawrence refurbishing the house following a terrible fire. But a tranquil existence is soon disrupted by arriving strangers.

In a full five-star notice, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw writes: “Mother! escalates the anxiety and ups the ante of dismay with every scene, every act, every trimester, taking us in short order from WTF to WTAF to SWTAF and beyond.

“It is as deadpan comedy that this film can be understood: a macabre spectacle of revulsion, a veritable agape of chaos.”

Jessica Kiang on The Playlists adds: “’mother!’ is something truly magnificent, the kind of visceral arthouse experience that comes along very rarely and spits you out into the daylight dazzled, queasy, delirious, and knock-kneed as a newborn calf.”

In the Daily Telegraph, Robbie Collin calls it a ‘shocking, surrealist, symphonically berserk feast of filth, scarcely needing to add: “A sick joke, an urgent warning and a roar into the abyss, Mother! earns its exclamation mark three times over and more.”

Much of the criticism comes with caveats, however, like Guy Lodge in Vanity Fair, who writes: “There’s a small, or perhaps not so small, part of this beautiful, spectacular attack of a movie that wants to be booed, but that doesn’t mean we should be swift to do so.”

At the time of publishing – and this is likely to change – the movie is surfing an impressive 93% approval rating on reviews aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

But as one would expect from what appears to be a pretty brutal cinematic experience, there are some voices of more vigorous dissent.

Like Stephanie Zacharek in Time magazine, who writes: “It tries so desperately to be crazy and disturbing that all we can see is the effort made and the money spent. No wonder there’s an exclamation mark in its title. Aronofsky just doesn’t know when to quit.”

Also starring Michelle Pfieffer, Ed Harris and Kristen Wiig, it’s due to hit UK cinemas on September 15.

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