Archive for the ‘mother!’ Category

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Region: Region Free

Length: 02:01:11

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: English Dolby Atmos

Alternate Audio:

5.1 French Dolby Digital Audio
5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital Audio
5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital Audio
5.1 English Descriptive Dolby Digital Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

Ratio: 2.39:1

Bitrate: 28.97 Mbps

Note: This title includes DVD and Ultraviolet copies of the film. It is also available in the UHD format.


Aronofsky isn’t this reviewer’s favorite filmmaker, but he is probably one of the most important and interesting directors currently practicing. Unfortunately, he is also one of the most pretentious. So, the question many critics were asking prior to viewing this film was simple: Is mother! Darren Aronofsky’s masterpiece, a piece of masturbatory self-indulgence, or a masturbatory masterpiece? There is quite a lot of debate about this, but most agree that the film is one of the most balls-to-the-wall insane cinematic experiences in recent memory. One thing is certain: If the film is a masterpiece, it is a self-indulgent one. There is no way that Joe Schmoe in the third row was considered for even the briefest instant while the script was being written.

His allegory works best when it is contained in the realm of unusual but ultimately believable narrative. For example, the first half of the film is quite effective and incredibly bizarre without sacrificing narrative logic (even if it is a decidedly unusual brand of logic). This, however, changes in the second half of the film when Lawrence’s character becomes pregnant. It is as if the film starts all over again and this time, the rules of logic are abandoned completely and without rhyme or reason. Things happen that completely defy all logic as it nosedives into a surreal universe that doesn’t remotely resemble our own. Yes, this probably makes sense if one is watching the film purely as a symbolic/allegorical study, but Aronofsky begins the film as an unusual narrative and not merely a series of random symbolic events. The film could have easily worked on both levels.

There are many possible readings for the film (all of them with obvious biblical origins), but this is a review and not an analytical essay. It’s impossible not to admire the thought and obvious intelligence that went into writing the film—and when the film works (as in the first half of the film), it is really quite extraordinary. However, neither the allegory nor the symbolism was particularly clever in the second half, because Aronofsky allowed the story that he had been telling to completely derail and it was replaced with an “on-the-nose” representation of the both the biblical elements that saturate his film and the destruction that man always brings to society and the world. It is no longer hidden in the interesting home invasion premise that he set up—and it could have been without sacrificing any of the chaotic intensity. What began as an interesting and wholly engaging experience ended in an uneven and wholly pretentious whimper of disillusioned disappointment.

The Presentation:

2.5 of 5 Stars

The disc is protected in a standard Blu-ray case with a shoddily cropped version of the film’s one-sheet artwork that omits everything that was provocative about that image and reduces it into a photo of Jennifer Lawrence’s face. The text is also cramped and poorly arranged. It’s pretty terrible. Why can’t studios simply use their one-sheet designs? They are almost always superior to the inept and often ugly images utilized for their home video releases. The case is further protected by a slip sleeve that features this same atrocious design.

One Sheet

The film’s One Sheet artwork.

The static menu design is much better and is elegant in its simplicity. It forgoes the usual musical accompaniment (for reasons that will be obvious once the viewer has seen the film).


Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

This transfer probably deserves five stars for representing the source materials in a faithful and efficient manner, but the score was bumped down half a point in order to address the simple fact that the source may be perceived as somewhat lackluster when compared to other contemporary films. The majority of mother! was shot on Super 16mm film (although small portions were shot on Red Epic Dragon cameras). The resulting image carries with it the limitations of the Super 16mm film format, which is considerably more limited than 35mm film and some of the better digital cinema cameras. However, this also gives the film a more filmic look that many cinephiles should appreciate. In any case the transfer itself really presents the film in the best possible manner.

Sound Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

However this reviewer may feel about the film itself, it is impossible not to admire the terrific sound design. The included Atmos track perfectly represents the filmmaker’s intentions while offering the viewer a truly amazing sonic experience. The film is quiet throughout most of the duration, but there are subtleties in the mix that expand the film’s universe far beyond the frame. What’s more, the more dynamic sequences are spectacular and will really give those high end speaker systems a workout. Terrific.


Special Features:

2.5 of 5 Stars

Mother! – The Downward Spiral – (HD) – (29:51) 

Those who enjoyed the film will certainly find this above average glimpse behind the making of the film. It isn’t a comprehensive examination of the film’s creation and it doesn’t offer an in-depth analysis of the material (which would have been quite welcome for a film of this kind). It merely showcases interesting behind the scenes footage with some very general comments from those involved. While a more in-depth study would have added enormous value to the disc, this small documentary is so much better than the usual EPK fluff that collectors have come to expect that one hates to complain.

The Makeup FX of Mother! – (HD) – (06:45) 

This extremely short featurette also manages to be something much more than the typical EPK drivel that appears on so many releases. We see behind the scenes footage as interview clips discuss the various make-up demands required for the production. Unfortunately—as the short duration might suggest—the information offered only skims the surface. The viewer isn’t given true insights as to how the effects were created.


Final Words:

The terrific performances and solid direction simply aren’t sufficient reason to recommend the film to most viewers. However, Darren Aronofsky has plenty of disciples and they will want to kneel at his altar. Luckily, they will find that this Blu-ray of mother! is a more than adequate way for them to fulfill their needs.