BOX OFFICE QUARTERBACK: The problem with Aronofski’s “mother!” is that the marketing is too damn precious
Don’t get me wrong – I like and admire most of director Darren Aronofski’s films. He crafts interesting, visceral films that have a bite. Nothing wrong with that. But all of the hype surrounding his current film, “mother!“, has been off-putting at best, and ridiculous at worst.
Not everyone buys into the precocious marketing campaign currently going on, which tells you virtually nothing about the film. He’s been quick to deflect criticism of this by telling people that it’s fun to be surprised. Critics are raving about the film, but all of them are keeping totally mum about the plot, other than to say it’s an allegory for something. Aronofski explained this allegory – in extensive detail, I’ve read – to his invited guests at a pre-Telluride screening. So why hasn’t the general movie-going public been informed as well? Doesn’t the director want people who are plunking $12 for his film to know what they’re paying to see?
You can keep twists and turns under wraps, sure. I don’t want to know all the crazy bends that the film will have. But I generally want to have some idea of what i”m seeing beyond a one or two line blurb, and that’s all that keeps being repeated for this film.
And the more hype it’s getting, the more critics and film journalists are playing Aronofsky’s game, and not really informing their readers of what is just so MUST SEE about the film, just that it’s absolutely a MUST SEE.
The job of these journalists is NOT to play into the game. It is their job to offer up believable criticism of a film, analyze it, and inform the public whether or not it is in their interests to see it.And WHY they feel that way.
Most of the journalists are leaving the “why” out of things, and when they do that, it tends to be a film that the critics will adore because it’s cool to do so, and not a film that the general populace will enjoy if they see it. I have seen this so many times over the years that it has become standard practice.
The more they keep proclaiming that you MUST SEE “mother!” without telling me WHY I MUST SEE it is making me less and less interested in seeing it.
“mother!” opens Friday across the country, and because Paramount and Aronofski have been so precious about keeping the films secrets to the point that they won’t even tell you the basic plot of the film beyond noting that it’s a thriller, and a “mind screw”, I will bet that people will stay away in droves. Not because it’s a bad film, but because they know nothing about what it is, and unless they’re diehard fans of the cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ed Harris – I think many people will turn their noses up at it. Its release timing also isn’t great.
I guess we shall see. Perhaps I will be wrong and the people will show up in droves. But I bet you that after a disastrous first weekend (3rd place box office or lower), Paramount’s marketing people will suddenly stop being so coy and launch an ad campaign that will do it’s best to give enough of the plot away to people who ignored it during opening weekend to interest them. Problem is, by that time, it might just be too late…