Critics React to Paramount’s mother!: “A Beautiful Thing to Behold”

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

It starts as an idyll, a doting Jennifer Lawrence and her poet husband Javier Bardem wiling time away in their grand and isolated country mansion. The nightmare comes soon enough, when a pair of mysterious guests (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer), arrive unannounced and in quick succession to brutally disrupt this tranquility.

What follows in the Darren Aronofsky-directed mother! is by turns and at once Biblical, horrifying, confounding and captivating; a tale of creation and destruction; a film as unforgettable as it is unique.

Here’s what critics are saying about Paramount latest film, which opens wide in theaters today:

“…it’s easily the most experimental feature released by a major studio in ages, a gleefully deranged companion piece to Aronofsky’s Old Testament epic Noah and an evil twin of sorts to The Fountain, with its grandiose meditations on love, death and eternal recurrence.” – Justin Chang, L.A. Times

“Shot with a surrealist’s eye for madness and destruction by the great cinematographer Matthew Libatique, Mother! always seems on the verge of exploding. Your head will feel the same way. And I mean that as a compliment. … In a world of Hollywood sellouts, Mother! emerges as the work of a visionary doing things his way. You won’t know what hit you.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone  

“Even by the manic standards of Darren Aronofsky—director of such exercises in escalating insanity as Pi, Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan—the emphatically titled mother! constitutes one hell of a freakout.” – Mike D’Angelo, Las Vegas Weekly

“[mother!] is an audacious, bold and fascinating fever dream of a film. It’s allegory for, well, everything (the environment, marriage, art, spirituality, you name it!), that will challenge, distress and edify anyone who chooses to submit themselves to this creation for two hours.” – Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press

“Now that studios tease out details from tentpole projects well before they open in theaters, the cryptic nature of mother! has been refreshing. It’s an art-house firestorm that will shock, and perhaps infuriate, audiences when it opens Friday in wide release. What a beautiful thing to behold.” – Matthew Jacobs, Huffington Post

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Critics “Spellbound” With “Beautiful and Thought-Provoking” Arrival

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
A scene from the film ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

A scene from the film Arrival by Paramount Pictures

We don’t really know if or when space aliens will drop out of the sky, or whether they’ll come bearing the secrets of interstellar travel or a boring machine to hallow out Earth’s core. But we do know this: when Denis Villeneuve-directed Arrival invades theaters tomorrow, we’re going to collectively witness one of the most well-crafted guesses yet as to how the encounter between earthlings and interstellar guests could go.

Says who? Well, pretty much everyone:

Arrival is such a beautiful and thought-provoking film that it almost single-handedly makes up for every bad aliens-coming-to-Earth film you’ve ever seen. Yes, even Independence Day: Resurgence. The latest from director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) is a sci-fi movie about life, death and learning a literally alien language on a deadline. Amy Adams turns in one of her best performances, Jeremy Renner shows he’s just as good a math geek as an Avenger, and Villeneuve puts a gorgeous and rich narrative on screen that’s as much about miscommunication among humans as it is communication with extraterrestrials.” – Bill Truitt, USA Today

“The dozen alien vessels in Arrival – stormcloud black, prolate hemispheroids the size of upended airports – aren’t easy to miss. But for sheer neck-craning scale, the film’s ideas and ambitions match them inch for inch. The magnificent new film from Denis Villeneuve is the kind of science fiction picture that hands its audience rocket packs, then goes arcing off into the heavens and dares you to keep up.” – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

Arrival plays like a high-end, handsomely appointed, feature-length version of a classic Twilight Zone episode. Most of the thrills and chills are of the intellectual and philosophical sort, and we’re asked to take a leap of faith when it comes to the time-space continuum, and why not, let’s do it.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times

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