Darren Aronofsky has been talking a lot about the meaning behind his new film, Mother!, following harsh critical response and a weak opening weekend at the box office, and in a recent interview, he contended that the film was meant to provoke, not please.
“How, if you walk out of this movie, are you not going to give it an ‘F’?” he said in an interview with radio host John Horn following a recent screening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “It’s a punch. It’s a total punch.”
“We wanted to make a punk movie and come at you,” Aronofsky said. “And the reason I wanted to come is because I was very sad and I had a lot of anguish and I wanted to express it. Filmmaking is such a hard journey. People are constantly saying ‘No’ to you. And to wake up every morning and get out of bed and to face all those ‘No’s,’ you have to be willing to really believe in something. And that’s what I look for in my collaborators and what I pitched the actors.”
The premise of Mother! was largely shrouded in secrecy leading up to its September 15th release. The basic narrative follows the lives of a couple, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, living in a remote countryside home, and the series of events that unfold in increasingly bizarre fashion as unexpected visitors (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) arrive.
Criticism of the film has ranged from perplexed (“roller-coaster-of-weird exhibitionism”) to outright derisive (“I hesitate to label it the ‘Worst movie of the year’ when ‘Worst movie of the century’ fits it even better.”)
“We always knew it was a strong cocktail,” Aronofsky told Horn in the interview. “When I was trying to tell the history, or the story, of people on Mother Earth, I was like, ‘Oh, the Bible could be a really kind of good blueprint to sort of hang all these stories.’ Whatever you believe, it doesn’t matter. But there’s power in those stories because we can relate to them and they have different types of meanings for different types of people.”
Aronofsky noted that the threat of climate change played a big role in inspiring him to create the film.
“It scares me, and it’s time to start screaming. So I wanted to howl,” he said of channeling his emotions into the film. “And this was my howl. And some people are not going to want to listen to it. That’s cool.”