Update: An attendee clarified in a tweet that Lawrence was flipping the bird as part of a funny story — just look at Darren Aronofsky chuckle. According to Sara Vilkomerson, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, this is what went down: "For the record (for those who care) I can vouch that JLaw was NOT giving the finger to critics last night. She was telling a funny story!"
This story was originally published September 22 at 10:45 a.m.
Jennifer Lawrence, the marketed-as-relatable movie star, did something we all want to do when we're told our work isn't good: Flipping off the haters. At a screening at the Museum of Modern Art of her new movie mother!, she flipped the bird, according to People. In fact, there's photo evidence of Lawrence's nonchalance (see the photo at the top).
Reportedly, the finger came in response to a question about mother!'s very low rating in CinemaScore. The movie received an F from movie-goers, a grade that's been controversial, considering the hype the movie's received.
Does the movie really deserve a failing grade? Most critics agree the movie is strange, and perhaps a little too frenzied, but is the movie as an abject failure? The New York Times critic A.O. Scott called it "a hoot," but a healthy chunk of viewers seem to hate it. (The Times also compiled the most passionate on-site comments about the film. Half the commenters loved it. The other half were irked by it precociousness. Nobody, it seemed, felt equivocal.) It has a score of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it's hardly raking in the box office office — it made only $7.5 million in the opening weekend.
The team behind mother! has spent much of the press tour actively defending the film. The president of Paramount told IndieWire that it was "intended to be bold," adding that it was "okay if people don't like it." Director Darren Aronofsky called it a "punk movie" that's designed to "come at you," per Deadline. Lawrence's middle finger is almost a more succinct version of these defenses: Why bother with rational defense when you can use body language?
Lawrence has also used her words, though, to defend the film: Speaking to Variety about mother!, she argued that the movie was "incredibly feminist."
"To me, this is incredibly feminist in the way that these Victorian, patriarchal novels show these loving, amazing husbands that are very slowly and delicately taking away their wives' dignity," she explained. For those that haven't seen the film, it follows an allegorical woman named "mother," who is slowly destroyed by the people she cares for. Aronofsky told the Times that it was an allegory for climate change. But it could also be a metaphor for the experiences of women everywhere. Who knows? It seems only one thing is clear: The people who made mother! don't really care how you feel about it.
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