It’s not entirely obvious when the backlash to Darren Aronofsky started but it likely started around the time The Fountain was released. The release of two masterpieces in the wake of that wild metaphysical mess rehabilitated his reputation extensively but then the backlash got resurrected with his undervalued, remarkable Noah, in which Russell Crowe played the biblical character. Even bonafide bible-thumpers, the same crowds that showed up for dreck like War Room, didn’t make the trip to see Aronofsky’s film. A popular reason given was that people died and the story was sad, which clearly never happened anywhere else in the bible.
Regardless, this is all to say Aronofsky is an ambitious director whether he also happens to be a popular one or not. He’s never made a boring movie and for all the flack that The Fountain and Noah have received, there are very few movies in circulation that look like them and even fewer films that are written with such audacious aims. Addiction, obsession, and pent-up desires are paramount to his films, whether in the guise of heroin in Requiem for a Dream or fame and physique in The Wrestler. Similarly aggressive returns of the repressed can be found in Pi, his excellent debut, and Black Swan, his beloved horror-melodrama starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.
I’m talking mostly about Aronofsky’s past movies because, well, not much is known about his upcoming movie, Mother!, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. What we do know is that the movie fits firmly into the horror genre by Aronofsky’s own admission and involves a couple that is sent into some sort of tizzy following the introduction of a houseguest. Horror is a genre that Aronofsky has thrived in and even expanded with Black Swan and, arguably, Pi. One could even label Requiem for a Dream a horror movie if so inclined. There’s no way of knowing where Mother! will take Aronofsky and his cast but it will likely remain a mystery until we get a look at a trailer in the coming months. What we do have for now is the first poster for the film, featuring a lushly drawn Lawrence holding out her own cut-out heart amongst a variety of plants, recalling (once again) a biblical painting. It’s difficult to extrapolate much more from the image but whatever the content, the new Aronofsky is a genuine event for any serious movie lover, maybe especially because we have no clue what to expect.