Review Roundup: Does Jennifer Lawrence Thrill in MOTHER?

Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer star in MOTHER!, directed by Darren Aronofsky. The psychological thriller hits theaters on September 15th.

In the film, couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. From filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer in this riveting psychological thriller about love, devotion and sacrifice.

What are the critics saying after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival? Check out the reviews!

Owen Gleiberman, Variety: "If the only thing we wanted, or expected, a horror film to do was to get a rise out of you - to make your eyes widen and your jaw drop, to leave you in breathless chortling spasms of WTF disbelief - then Darren Aronofsky's "mother!" would have to be reckoned some sort of masterpiece. As it is, the movie, which stars Jennifer Lawrence as a woman who slips down a rabbit hole of paranoid could-this-be-happening? reality (she flushes a beating heart down the toilet; blood in the shape of a vagina melts through the floorboards; and oh, the wackjobs who keep showing up!), is far from a masterpiece. It's more like a dazzlingly skillful machine of virtual reality designed to get nothing but a rise out of you. It's a baroque nightmare that's about nothing but itself."

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: "To be sure, readings of the film will vary; some critics will try to decipher its writer-director's attitude, while the public will mostly respond to the ghoulish twists and kicks, of which there are plenty. From a dramatic point of view, there are several gaping holes, notably the unexplained disappearances of certain characters, and cheap dramaturgical conveniences, such as the absence of outside-world lifelines like phones and cars and the willingness of mother to go along with what's happening for far too long. But these are par-for-the course issues in such fare. There's certainly no faulting the actors, who, with the exception of the excellent and always audience-engaging Lawrence, all trigger a significant measure of creepiness."

David Edelstein, Vulture: "The movie works on its own benighted terms: Like Black Swan, it's a tour de force. I respected Black Swan, though, because it made the case - however ludicrous and questionable - that the greatest performing comes at a personal cost. MOTHER!, on the other hand, is grandiose and self-aggrandizing. It puts Jennifer Lawrence through the mill for no purpose except nurturing a strain of masochism of which she has been blessedly free. She's a tough, funny, and smart actress. I'd hate to think of her as just another doll for a director to torture."

Stephanie Zacharek, Time: "MOTHER! is ambitious and dorky...It's entertaining to watch, because it's not easy to see where it's going-though you might feel a little underwhelmed when you discover where it ends up. The main reason to keep watching is Lawrence, receptive and radiant. If you were to tote up the lines of dialogue she gets, you wouldn't find many, and most are of the "What are you doing?" and "Get out of here!" variety. But her face, almost celestial in its insistent hope, gets the job done. It's as guileless as a piece of fruit still on the tree, yearning for the touch of the sun."

Steve Pond, The Wrap: "But this is really Aronofsky's singular vision, executed with spine-tingling commitment by Jennifer Lawrence, who is the center of almost every shot. MOTHER! is not necessarily the stuff for awards, with more than a few Academy voters likely recoiling from the extremity of Aronofsky's work. Still, you don't make a movie about the dangers of adulation because you want to win shiny trophies. For its combination of ambition and audacity, this is a glorious piece of cinematic insanity."

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: "MOTHER! is, without doubt, the most radical studio film since The Last Temptation of Christ, and your disbelief at its daring will be part of the fun. Matthew Libatique's camera, hovering close to Lawrence's brow like an angel of sympathy, helps us into her emotions, but just as powerfully Aronofsky weaves in a savage indictment of "artistic" male ego and entitlement that makes his climax feel self-critical. In an intensely personal way, MOTHER! is an apology to anyone who's ever felt eaten alive by love at its most selfish. Naturally, it's required viewing for married couples."

Ben Croll, Indie Wire: "It also forces us to confront specific political overtones. As characters swarm the Bardem and Lawrence home, they bring with them the fissures and ongoing conflicts of the outside world. MOTHER! does not try to evoke specific images, as Alfonso Cuaron did in "Children of Men" or even Bong Joon-ho in "Okja," but it has a similarly bracing effect. As rioters, protesters, and refugees overtake the house, Aronosfky's political message becomes clear. Try and hide all you want. You're still a part of this world, and it's coming for you. Grade: A-."

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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