Jennifer Lawrence's new film, a delirious horror story that escalates from menace to mayhem to mind-bending weirdness, provoked strong reactions at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday.
Darren Aronofsky's mother! stars Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple living in that horror-flick staple, an isolated old house. They start to receive mysterious house-guests, with results that go from puzzling to apocalyptic.
The film, which Aronofsky describes as a "fever dream" provoked by angst at the state of the environment and society, was greeted with a mix of applause and boos at its first press screening in Venice.
Most critics were impressed by what a review in the Hollywood Reporter called the "madhouse bacchanal" of the film's final stretch. Others wondered what it all meant. Variety found the film impressive but empty, a "baroque nightmare that's about nothing but itself."
Aronofsky acknowledged the movie was "a very, very strong cocktail."
"Of course there are going to be people who are not going to want that type of an experience. And that's fine," Aronofsky told reporters before the film's red carpet premiere in Venice.
"I've been making it clear that this is a roller-coaster ride — only come on it if you are really prepared to do the loop-the-loop a few times."