‘mother!’ reviews: Jennifer Lawrence is ‘extraordinary’ and the film is ‘insanity’

Critics are calling ‘mother!’ a lot of things, but boring isn’t one of them. It’s the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, who made intense, fever-dream movies like “Pi” (1998), “Requiem for a Dream” (2000), and “The Fountain” (2006) before earning a Best Director Oscar nomination for the equally hallucinatory “Black Swan” (2010). He followed that uncharacteristically with a big-budget biblical epic, “Noah” (2014), and according to its reviews “mother!” has its own touches of religious subtext.

Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”), who at age 26 has already accumulated four nominations, stars as a woman whose home with her husband (Javier Bardem) is invaded by unexpected and uninvited guests (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer). From there unfolds a horror film being described as the Bible by way of Roman Polanski (“Rosemary’s Baby”) and Lars von Trier (“Antichrist”). It’s “some of the most sustained escalating insanity ever to burn down a cinema screen.” It’s a “mad fantasia,” a “psychological head trip,” and “scorchingly brilliant filmmaking.”

“We are with Lawrence every step of the way.” She “carries the movie” with the drama playing out “almost entirely in the actress’ extraordinary face.” She conveys “the displeasure and disquiet that she must keep under control.” It sounds like it has the potential to earn Lawrence her fifth Oscar nomination, and perhaps a second Best Director bid for Aronofsky, though this is hardly your typical Oscar bait, and it has its detractors: as of this writing it has a MetaCritic score of 75 and 75% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. It sounds like it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but then neither was “Black Swan.”

Check out some of the reviews below, and discuss this and more with your fellow movie fans in our forums.

Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “If Roman Polanski, Lars von Trier and Hieronymus Bosch were to collaborate on a fresh translation of the Bible, the result might be half as feverishly inspired … We are with Lawrence every step of the way, and for all the sound and fury erupting around her at any given moment, the drama plays out almost entirely in the actress’ extraordinary face”

Jessica Kiang (The Playlist): “Darren Aronofsky’s ‘mother!’ … uncoils from a murderously tense, tricky and claustrophobic first hour into some of the most sustained escalating insanity (and scorchingly brilliant filmmaking) ever to burn down a cinema screen. An incendiary religious allegory, a haunted-house horror, a psychological head trip so extreme it should carry a health warning”

Alissa Wilkinson (Vox): “‘Mother!’ is a mad fantasia of fire and water and insanity, a spinning, flaming plume that is not here to make you like it, though it wouldn’t mind if you decided to just bow down in worship.”

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian): “Lawrence carries the movie. Aronofsky keeps his camera close into her face almost all of the time: her creamy, waxy youthfulness and beauty fill the screen and immediately transmit the displeasure and disquiet that she must keep under control. Bardem’s sensual slab of a face is closely monitored too: responding to her furious complaints with a complacent, seraphic smile.”

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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