Mother! upsets punters
There’s a gulf in cinema between critics and audiences, and as someone who walks both worlds, it’s one I always try to be mindful of. I’m not perfect but I’m not as bad as some. For example, I doubt many critics went to watch Baywatch for pleasure.
It wasn’t great, but I was willing to give it a fair shake. Usually the movies that get unanimously bad reviews from the broadsheets have some redeeming qualities. In general, the movies that critics rave about aren’t the same as the movies the public queue up to see. Compare the Top 5 rated films of 2016 with the Top 5 grossing films of 2016: Top rated: Moonlight Zootropolis Arrival
La La Land Hell or High Water Top grossing: Captain America: Civil War Finding Dory Zootropolis
The Jungle Book
The Secret Life of Pets
So there’s one film in common.
This year the gulf between people and pundits is even wider.
The most critically hyped film of the year so far is Mother! directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Jennifer Lawrence.
Now, to be fair, not all critics have been head-over-heels about it.
The New York Observer’s reviewer said: “I hesitate to label it the ‘Worst movie of the year’ when ‘Worst movie of the century’ fits it even better.”
Despite this, the overwhelming verdict has been gushing praise.
However the film just received an “F” score from a Las Vegas market research firm called Cinemascore. The company hands out survey cards to movie audiences as they leave theatres, collates the results, and converts them to grades from A to F.
An F for fail is very rare. Few films carry the badge of shame.
An audience really has to hate a film for it to get an F. To illustrate the point: Battlefield Earth scored a D. So why does this giant difference in opinion exist? There’s a possibility that the audiences polled felt the film was pretentious. They could have flat-out hated the story (the film’s twists and turns aren’t to everyone’s taste). But it’s most likely about casting and marketing.
Jennifer Lawrence fans expect mainstream entertainment. Hunger Games, American
Hustle, Passengers, that kind of thing.
What they got in Mother! was a hard going, slightly surreal, continental-style shocker. Lawrence gets put through hell, and people don’t want to see their Oscarwinning darlings terrorised. The closest label the everyday fan would recognise is “horror”, but traditional horror fans would be turned off too. Yet, the promotional posters focused on gory horror-themed imagery. Mother! does what its makers wanted it to do, and that’s revolt, baffle, excite and stimulate. But for the customers it’s a different story – no matter what drew them into the cinema in the first place, it’s easy to imagine that the regular punter felt they’d been mis-sold.
Jennifer Lawrence fans might have been surprised by the surreal, continental style of the controversial mother!
the secret Life of pets was a top-five hit