Fresh on 4K: ‘MOTHER!’ is now four times more disturbing


Connor Bynum // Film Critic


Rated R, 121 minutes.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer LawrenceJavier BardemEd HarrisMichelle PfeifferBrian GleesonDomhnall Gleeson and Kristen Wiig

Available today on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to disturbing and uncomfortable films. With titles such as REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and BLACK SWAN under his belt, the filmmaker clearly knows how to tell interesting and haunting stories. Yet it seems the auteur may have gotten a bit carried away with his recent foray into upsetting his audience with MOTHER!, which is now available on 4K UHD Blu-ray. Having enjoyed his previous work, I must say it’s too bad that Aronofsky’s latest film is nearly impossible to recommend.

Movie Grade: C-

Taking place entirely in one location, the story follows a character only known as “Mother” (a fully committed Jennifer Lawrence) as she looks after the home of her much older husband played by Javier Bardem. Uninvited guests slowly start to arrive in their home in spite of Mother’s uncomfortable reluctance which eventually breaks as these guests begin to destroy the house she has dedicated her life to maintain. These events are clearly designed as an allegorical depiction of Biblical creation — complete with characters representing Adam and Eve, as well as their two son’s Cain and Abel — that eventually becomes a tale of how badly the human race has treated Mother Earth. This is indeed a fascinating idea on paper, but sadly, MOTHER! abruptly spirals out of control by its second half and never makes the slightest attempt to recover. The film takes so much pleasure in visually assaulting its audience with its heavy handed metaphors that any lasting positive impact the viewer might take away from the experience is lost.

Javier Bardem, left, and Jennifer Lawrence star in ‘MOTHER!’ Courtesy Photo.

Video/Audio Grade: B

MOTHER! arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray courtesy of Paramount Pictures after an upscale from a 2K Digital Intermediate. The upgraded amount of detail is indeed noticeable in spite of not coming from a native 4K source. Textures on the walls of the house, skin tones, and the occasional wide shot of the house’s exterior all do well to improve visual clarity, but having been filmed on a combination of 16mm and 35mm film, this one is fighting an uphill battle from the start. Sadly, the added color depth of HDR can only do so much with it’s rustic and murky pallet. Very little diversity is offered in terms of color as nearly everything in the film falls in the range of brown and slightly darker brown. The HDR definitely helps to separate the finer details, but sadly fails to breathe new life into into the picture. However, the included Dolby Atmos track is a spectacular creation. The deep creaks and vibrant shakes the house exudes are a perfect fit for your beefed up sound system and does offer the needed incentive to make the upgrade to UHD.

Extras Grade: C

The extras can be found on the packed-in standard Blu-ray, and, while interesting, amount to little more than half an hour of content at best. The inclusion of a digital copy in both iTunes and UltraViolet is always an appreciated feature from Paramount releases, but I can’t imagine why someone would want to watch this film on the go, let alone more than once.

Special Features:

  • MOTHER! The Downward Spiral
  • The Makeup FX of MOTHER!

Final Grade: C+

MOTHER! is the kind of movie one would expect from a first year film student who was forced to attend Sunday School for too much of his childhood. It’s a harrowing test of one’s patience and endurance that actively tries to anger its audience and practically revels in creating controversy for the sake of controversy. The increased resolution and added color depth are certainly a welcome addition, but ultimately fail to make the film any easier to watch or enjoy.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.