mother! is Darren Aronofsky’s Stardust Memories, his vehemently exaggerated satire on the burdens of fame. And for anyone who thought that Woody Allen’s 1980 film looked a gift horse in the mouth, critiquing fame from within its comfortable confines, mother! tops it — it’s a cinematic version of an equine root canal. The films’ similarities in intent and differences in degree emerge in one aspect in particular: while Stardust Memories doesn’t exactly flatter Allen’s character, in Aronofsky’s film the artist — freed from direct identification with Aronofsky’s own persona — comes off as an ingratiating monster.

mother! is the story of a mid-career male artist — a writer, played by Javier Bardem — whose conjoined qualities of celebrity and vanity give rise to a uniquely destructive power. For Aronofsky, the calculus is cruel: the adoring crowd is motivated by a greedy and cavalier selfishness that is sought, enabled, nourished, sustained, and encouraged by the artist himself. His film flirts with the ridiculous and sometimes falls into it — though to ridicule it, or Aronofsky, for doing so is to miss both the point and the pleasure.” — posted by The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody on 9.18.