Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review - The Fountain (2007)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz

Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky

The Fountain is a love story that spans three points in time and all which revolve around the mythical tree of life. First story is about a 16th century conquistador Tomas (Hugh Jackman) who is trying to find the tree of life for his Queen Isabel (Rachel Weisz), in the present day we have Dr Tom Creo who is trying to find the cure for his wife Izzi’s illness, a cure that might be linked with a mysterious plant discovered in South America, finally in the 26th century we have astronaut Tommy whose intention is to fly the tree of life into a star close to supernova in order to resurrect his dead wife. Describing the separate plots really doesn’t do the movie justice as the plots interweave and personal interpretation also plays a heavy hand with the enjoyment of the film.

With three different stories going at once and central characters that both have to be similar yet different in some respects, failure can be close at hand for the actors. Both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are fantastic and the chemistry the two shares seem very real. Jackman has more screen time and really has the toughest job especially with the final story where as astronaut Tommy he’s acting completely by himself. Though that should not take away from Weisz who in a shorter amount of time has to convince the audience that she is the driving force behind Tomas, Tom and Tommy’s every action.

Darren Aronosfky should also take a bow as this was his baby, a film that he was personally invested in, a film that was almost thrown on the scrapheap. Care has been taken with what has been shown, and each age has its own feel. The 16th century feels darker, the present day is very clinical and finally the 26th century almost feels dream like. The sets are also very impressive especially the spaceship that Tommy inhabits, it’s nothing like we would imagine and offers Jackman a very fresh and creative space to work in.

The biggest weakness in this movie is that it really doesn’t offer the audience much to hold onto. Other than the bare bones love story there is nothing there unless the audience makes a considerable effort. Now movies should be encouraged to make the audience work a little and not spoon feed everything, but there is line where a movie goes from rich in symbolism to being hard to penetrate and while I myself managed to get a lot from the movie I know some people just thought it was simple and boring. Also if it wasn’t for Aronosfky interweaving the stories so the meaning of a scene say from the 16th century resonated with a present day scene, then most of the stories are really lacking with flow and can seem rather shallow. The present day is payed most attention and works, but the 16th century and 26th century would probably just bore people if played by themselves. Now I understand that the three stories are not supposed to be taken individually but this is just an example of getting the audience to work as they fill in the blanks.

When I watched this movie at the cinemas I was a huge mess at the end. I had to go grab a coffee and just be quiet for a while. A movie has never had such a huge effect on me like The Fountain. I’ve heard some people’s interpretations of the movie and they always seem different. What I feel for the movie is rather personal and I’m thinking that it’s personal for other people who liked the movie. But that’s the problem this movie will hit or fail and if you don’t want to put a bit of work into the movie you’re not going to get much out. It’s my number two of all time but I can understand why this might fail for other people. If you haven’t watched it give it a go as it may become your one of your favourites.

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