Is 'mother!' a Masterpiece or a Mess? Fans and Critics Sound Off

Is 'mother!' a Masterpiece or a Mess? Fans and Critics Sound Off

Sep 18, 2017

Moviegoers might not be in agreement about Darren Aronofsky's mother!, but polarization is a popular topic for conversation. The new thriller, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple dealing with unwanted houseguests in their remote country home, received an F grade from opening night audiences polled by CinemaScore, but not everyone considers it to be a failure.

In fact, while the the 14 releases with an F grade via CinemaScore have an unfortunate average Rotten Tomatoes score of 36%, mother! is on the positive end of the spectrum for the bunch with a 69% fresh rating from nearly 200 reviews. That's still a considerable spilt for critics, while ticket buyers have also been mixed on their reactions. 

To see just how divisive this movie is, here are some of the most striking pro and con comments about the movie from the pros and the fans:


"mother! was a mind-blowing and audacious masterpiece. I'm still in awe of it." - Erik Anderson, critic for Awards Watch

"mother! is a masterpiece no doubt." - Isaiah Thomas, movie fan

"A masterpiece that might make even fans of extreme horror movies wince." - Charles Ealy, Austin American-Statesman

"mother! was an absolute masterpiece. Hands down one of the best films of this decade." - Zack Perez, movie fan

"If the sole purpose of art is to create an emotional response, mother! is a masterpiece." - Bryan Bishop, critic for The Verge

"Hands down the best movie I have seen so far this year...a masterpiece." - Robby C, Rotten Tomatoes user and movie fan

"mother! is a brilliant film." - Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko and The Box

"An unquestionably brilliant movie." - Jeffrey M. Anderson, critic for Combustible Celluloid

"A hugely ambitious, brilliantly made movie." - John Powers, critic for Vogue

"It's a terrific horror movie and the most twisted improv game you've ever seen." - Scott Mendelson, Forbes

"Oh my god I loved mother! -- are people talking about how insanely funny it is?" - Rian Johnson, director of Looper and Star Wars: The Last Jedi

"It's thrilling to see a major filmmaker and major movie stars explore [these ideas] so boldly and with so little regard for convention." - Eric D. Snider, critic for Crooked Marquee

"Something truly magnificent, the kind of visceral arthouse experience that comes along very rarely." - Jessica Kiang, critic for The Playlist

"The most powerful and terrifying film I've seen all year. I loved it." - Brian Altano, host/producer for IGN

"I LOVED mother! Masterpiece. Deal with it." - Meg McCarthy, critic for Movies with Meg

"What makes mother! brilliant is that it is open enough to read and project your own experiences onto it, which makes it deeply personal and universal." - Kate Walsh, critic for Tribune News Service

"Impeccably, even ingeniously realized, it is a thing to be admired for its visual and intellectual daring." - Andrea Chase, critic for Killer Movie Reviews

"One of the best movies of the year!" - Boyd P, Rotten Tomatoes user and movie fan



"A mess." - Jackie K. Cooper, critic for Huffington Post

"Straight up, mother! is a mess." - Jacque, movie fan

"Just wasted two hours seeing mother! Most nonsensical mess of a film I've seen in a long time." - Martha Meyer, movie fan

"I hesitate to label it the 'Worst movie of the year' when 'Worst movie of the century' fits it even better." - Rex Reed, critic for the New York Observer

"The movie’s grasp of experience feels tenuous, trippy, and, dare one say, adolescent." - Anthony Lane, critic for The New Yorker

"A big WTF yawn." - Dana Barbuto, critic for The Patriot Ledger

"Makes Black Swan look like The Care Bears Movie. Oy vey!!!!!" - father of Jessie Maltin (father-in-law of Leonard Maltin)

"Pretentious, self-indulgent torture-porn." - Susan Granger, critic for SSG Syndicate

"A pretentious mess of a film." - Caryn James, critic for the BBC

"More pretentious than provocative." - Todd Jorgensen, critic for Cinemalogue

"Did we mention this movie is pretentious?" - Robert Horton, critic for HeraldNet

"I don't know what the hell it is." - Steve Newton, critic for Georgia Straight

"A hateful, deliberately incomprehensible experience." - David 'Mad Dog' Bradley, The Adelaide Review

"It would be difficult to find a filmmaker who has more contempt for his audience." - Michael Heaton, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Aronofsky is giving us the finger as well as an axe to the forehead." - Katherine Monk, The Ex-Press

"Horrible. If you need to Google search the meaning of movie when you get home, it was a failure." - Rotten Tomatoes user and movie fan

"May be the vilest movie ever released by a major Hollywood studio." - Kyle Smith, critic for National Review

"Worst movie I have ever seen! Had no plot and it made absolutely no sense." - JuicyFruit G, Rotten Tomatoes user and movie fan

"A sure-fire awards contender----at the Razzies!" - Avi Offer, critic for The NYC Movie Guru



Here is Aronofsky's personal statement (via Fandango) responding to all the negative reactions:

Look, anytime you throw a punch at the audience, there are going to be people who appreciate it and love it and want more. There's going to be other people that are going to try to hit back. What bums me the most is that people who are reacting negatively are not responding at all to the craftsmanship and to the incredible performances and dedication of my actors, because they're undeniably great.

It's funny, those are the same people who also write about how there's nothing ever new going on in film. Suddenly, you do something really new and some people don't dig it.

Look, we knew what we were doing. We knew that we were going to get strong reactions. With all that, there's also people who are writing really beautiful things about the film that are very inspired and mean a lot. I don't really follow any of that. I just get the vibe. I knew, when we began this project, it was going to be an intense ride for people.


And here is Paramount's official statement (via president of marketing and distribution Megan Colligan) responding to all the negative reactions:

This movie is very audacious and brave. You are talking about a director at the top of his game, and an actress at the top of her game. They made a movie that was intended to be bold. Everyone wants original filmmaking, and everyone celebrates Netflix when they tell a story no one else wants to tell. This is our version. We don’t want all movies to be safe. And it’s okay if some people don’t like it.


mother! is now playing everywhere. Go see which side of the fence you fall on.

Categories: Buzz Bin, News, Box office, Horror
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