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

Check out some of the best reactions to the film, and tell us which side of the fence you're on in our poll.

by | September 18, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

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 split 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 positive and negative comments about the movie from the pros and the fans:


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

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

An unquestionably brilliant movie.
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

A hugely ambitious, brilliantly made movie.
John Powers, Vogue

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

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,

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

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.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

mother! is a brilliant film.
Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko

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

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

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

mother! was an absolute masterpiece. Hands down one of the best films of this decade.
Zack Perez, 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, New York Observer

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

A big WTF yawn.
Dana Barbuto, The Patriot Ledger

A pretentious mess of a film.
Caryn James,

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,

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

Makes Black Swan look like The Care Bears Movie. Oy vey!!!!!
– Leonard Maltin, (via daughter Jessie Maltin)

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

Did we mention this movie is pretentious?
Robert Horton, HeraldNet

A mess.
Jackie K. Cooper, Huffington Post

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

Straight up, Mother is a mess.
Jacque, movie fan


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 currently playing everywhere. Which side of the fence are you on?

Tag Cloud

TNT YouTube Red latino Marvel Studios Esquire Comedy spain binge stand-up comedy Marathons psychological thriller Spike doctor who hist Nominations Star Wars Trophy Talk casting CNN Syfy cults Sneak Peek blockbuster Family toy story harry potter kids cartoon mutant Cannes composers witnail Turner Classic Movies WGN PaleyFest Mary poppins Amazon Prime natural history Winners Warner Bros. cancelled finale NYCC cancelled TV shows Film Festival Mystery Best and Worst CBS Disney streaming service New York Comic Con Christmas Holiday Winter TV Britbox Polls and Games spanish language Food Network Superheroes Drama theme song Oscars Song of Ice and Fire based on movie breaking bad science fiction LGBTQ south america cops Schedule Netflix Christmas movies Valentine's Day crime thriller Spring TV 2017 golden globes 2018 Awards Tour Summer Box Office Sony Pictures children's TV sports singing competition Rocketman 21st Century Fox space boxoffice Creative Arts Emmys Hallmark Country jamie lee curtis Tomatazos E3 sequel ESPN Pixar TCM Chernobyl Reality Competition Character Guide Nat Geo PBS anime Year in Review ITV IFC Films Star Trek Sundance A&E YouTube Premium CW Seed TV Infographic Marvel National Geographic Set visit Sundance Now Paramount political drama versus award winner Shudder Tarantino war indie Fox News FXX Mindy Kaling FOX See It Skip It Classic Film festivals joker talk show E! miniseries Black Mirror Martial Arts Rom-Com MSNBC ABC batman Superheroe green book Tumblr hispanic anthology Dark Horse Comics Quiz comiccon unscripted Trivia Video Games revenge History DGA spider-man San Diego Comic-Con dramedy BBC America richard e. Grant blaxploitation Fall TV Peacock cars supernatural Extras Countdown Teen Logo Lifetime serial killer Super Bowl series Mary Poppins Returns VICE independent Women's History Month Disney Plus Comics on TV Sci-Fi Showtime spinoff zombie Adult Swim Ellie Kemper romance tv talk Netflix USA Network technology true crime Turner El Rey movies Election teaser aliens Apple 007 SXSW Apple TV+ game show zero dark thirty TIFF canceled TV shows Vudu Photos Stephen King Freeform discovery Cosplay Opinion Music Holidays Disney+ Disney Plus Podcast TLC The Purge FX Writers Guild of America 2020 GLAAD 24 frames vampires comics Masterpiece Amazon Prime Video First Reviews GIFs sitcom Crunchyroll Comic Book Crackle American Society of Cinematographers TruTV what to watch DC Comics TCA romantic comedy TV renewals rotten movies we love adventure cancelled television Television Academy Anna Paquin HBO Comedy Central Fantasy television YA comic Rocky free movies social media CBS All Access Amazon Horror Lifetime Christmas movies Starz Pirates ghosts docudrama renewed TV shows game of thrones Certified Fresh Toys crime SDCC MCU justice league psycho NBC Kids & Family facebook Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Heroines Ghostbusters Awards Pride Month Walt Disney Pictures Calendar First Look ABC Family Lucasfilm Paramount Network dc Lionsgate animated Apple TV Plus President dceu Nickelodeon Grammys Binge Guide strong female leads DirecTV Pop X-Men Interview cancelled TV series slashers period drama SundanceTV christmas movies Watching Series Shondaland cooking medical drama robots Premiere Dates OWN RT21 book Thanksgiving DC streaming service Animation video transformers AMC crossover biography Acorn TV quibi canceled historical drama The Walking Dead thriller USA mockumentary Mary Tyler Moore 2019 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Marvel Television screenings disaster politics TBS spy thriller Hulu dragons Musical Cartoon Network DC Universe ratings 71st Emmy Awards Action streaming Ovation LGBT Pet Sematary TCA 2017 Bravo Film TV Land APB IFC Elton John elevated horror HBO Max Rock Brie Larson Hallmark Christmas movies Mudbound RT History halloween BBC Epix Arrowverse crime drama nature Biopics Disney Channel Western cats A24 The Arrangement Musicals YouTube Reality 2015 The CW Disney travel Red Carpet MTV police drama diversity werewolf CMT cinemax foreign VH1 Columbia Pictures BET 2016 45 GoT Universal Emmys Emmy Nominations zombies 20th Century Fox WarnerMedia The Witch Captain marvel Trailer adaptation Spectrum Originals