Mother! isn’t exactly cleaning up at the multiplex, not that Darren Aronofsky seems terribly let down. His enigmatic thriller scored a rare “F” from CinemaScore, a dubious badge of honor shared with movies both good (Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris) and bad (I Know Who Killed Me); the writer/director has responded to that failing grade on KPCC’s The Frame, expressing neither surprise nor disappointment.
Aronofsky, who most recently directed Noah and Black Swan, calls his movie a reflection of the way currently things are in the world — so of course it isn’t winning audiences over en masse. Here are his full comments:
“What’s interesting about that is, like, how if you walk out of this movie are you not going to give it an ‘F?’ It’s a punch. It’s a total punch. And I realize that we were excited by that. We wanted to make a punk movie and come at you. 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. I said, ‘Look, this isn’t going to be a popularity contest. We’re basically holding up a mirror to what’s going on. All of us are doing this. But that final chapter hasn’t been written and hopefully things can change.’ And, to go back, the fact that it’s going down right now and things are really falling apart in a way that is really scary.
“It’s scary when you talk to the people who are studying this and thinking about this and then you have other people who basically believe in the power of a iPhone that they can communicate to 35 million people in a blink of an eye, yet they don’t believe in science in other ways. You know, which is as proven as gravity at this point, really. It has as many people believe in it as believe in gravity. And it scares me and it’s time to start screaming. So I wanted to howl. And this was my howl. And some people are not going to want to listen to it. That’s cool.”
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Mother! has grossed $16 million in its first week of release against a budget of $30 million; already it seems destined for cult-classic status. Listen to Aronofsky’s full interview here.