WTH was that? 3 Stars

Darren Aronofsky’s mother! may have been one of the most divisive films of 2017, receiving a rare “F” rating from Cinemascore. Picture and sound are great on the 4K UHD Blu-ray release.

Mother! (2017)
Released: 15 Sep 2017
Rated: R
Runtime: 121 min
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Writer(s): Darren Aronofsky
Plot: A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
IMDB rating: 6.8
MetaScore: 74

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 1 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, UltraViolet
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 12/19/2017
MSRP: $34.99

The Production: 2/5

I hate to admit it, but I’ve never been much of a fan of Darren Aranofsky’s films. When mother! arrived from Paramount to review, I was very hesitant to watch it, but the next day inserted the disc into my player. Three attempts at watching the film later, I am now prepared to write my review, and it’s going to be short and to the point. What did I just watch? Neil Middlemiss praised the film in his review of the Blu-ray release. I assume we saw the same movie, since Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer all appeared in it. But I not only disliked the movie, it got under my skin and quite often had me questioning the actions of many of the characters. Why didn’t Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) call the police when these guests of Him (Javier Bardem) refused to leave? There are many other times I had to ask the same question after events unfolded on-screen. I know the answer, that the film would end or not startle you as the director intended. I understand that Aronofsky wants to make his audience uncomfortable, and he achieves that in spades. This movie just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

mother! was filmed primarily in Super 16mm  and cropped theatrically in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio and completed as a 2K digital intermediate (per IMDB). Paramount has upscaled that DI to 2160p and applied HDR using DolbyVision (which appeared as HDR10 on my Sony UBP-X800 player). The additional grain provided by the 16mm film stock has been maintained, giving the film an organic and natural look. Colors have a more natural gradation thanks to the tasteful use of HDR, which also helps provide a more stable contrast with deep blacks and dark shadow detail.

Audio: 5/5

Paramount has upgraded the sound mix to Dolby Atmos (backwards compatible as Dolby TrueHD 7.1), and when played back in Atmos 5.1.2, it is quite immersive and impressive, making you feel as if you are inside that house as sounds pan in all directions – left to right, front to back, and above you. When the guests are making a ruckus upstairs, it sounds like they are upstairs. LFE is strong, particularly during the last 30 minutes or so when the house becomes an all-out war zone.

Special Features: 2.5/5

All of the extras can be found on the included 1080p Blu-ray disc.

mother! – The Downwars Spiral (1080p; 29.51): Aronofsky and his cast and crew discuss the process in making this very strange film.

The Make-up Effects of mother! (1080p; 6:45): Make-up effects supervisor Adrien Morot takes us on a tour of some of the gags his team created for the film.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on UltraViolet partner Vudu, which redeemed as HDX, although that may have more to do with the fact that Vudu does not offer this film in UHD at this time.

Overall: 3/5

mother! is a well-made and very strange little film, a bit too allegorical for my taste. Paramount’s UHD release is probably the best way to go for those who are fans of the film.

Published by

Todd Erwin



All Things Film Junkie
Senior HTF Member
Jul 30, 2003
North of the 49th
Real Name
Stephen J. Hill
I suspect that HDR and WCG will be the biggest benefits to this release, as 16mm resolution tops out at 2K at best.

Matt Hough

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 2006
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough
I am SO glad I didn't have to review this!

(Now for a mini-review): For all of its arresting visuals and astounding sound design (and both are really superb), its narrative thrust of masochistic misogyny is so over the top that it was hard to not become irritated at its tiresome implacability. OK, so from this we're supposed to understand that he's celebrating women as givers, nurturers, and caretakers to their undeserving men who are selfish takers and users and unappreciative of all their women go through for them by having poor Jennifer Lawrence be used as a figurative and literal punching bag for two hours? I get his drift, but it's not a movie I ever need to see again.
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