Friday, September 9, 2016

Movie Review #484: "The 9th Life of Louis Drax" (2016)

Movie"The 9th Life of Louis Drax"
Director: Alexandre Aja
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
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A young accident prone boy named Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth) is in a coma after falling off a cliff into the ocean and being declared dead for several minutes. Some believe he didn't fall, but rather, he was pushed. Now, everyone is trying to unravel the mystery around Louis Drax and his accident.

"The 9th Life of Louis Drax" is directed by Alexandre Aja, who is best know for directing films like "High Tension," "Piranha 3D," and "Horns." The screenplay is written by actor Max Minghella and is based on a book by Liz Jensen. The movie stars Aiden Longworth as the titular Louis Drax, an accident prone little boy who has been dealt a hefty series of injuries throughout his short life. Though he's just 9 years old, Louis has been electrocuted, was nearly crushed by a chandelier, has had food poisoning many times, and has had all sorts of other problems like botulism, broken arms, etc. His mother Natalie, played by Sarah Gadon, once told him if he were a cat, he would have used up eight of his lives already. The two of them appear to be inseparable as Natalie seems to dote on Louis and Louis always stays close by, even if he's angry at his mom for babying him. Natalie herself appears to be a very demure woman who dresses as if she were posing for a Norman Rockwell painting in the thick of the 1950's. On his 9th birthday during a picnic outing, Louis has the mother of all accidents when he falls off a cliff and into the ocean with his mother and father Peter, played by Aaron Paul, unable to do anything. Though Louis died for several minutes, he ultimately survives the fall, but now, he is stuck in a coma. The police, headed by officer Dalton, played by Molly Parker, however, are not so sure Louis's fall was an accident, especially considering his father disappeared immediately following the incident.

Much of "The 9th Life of Louis Drax" takes place in the comatose mind of Louis Drax himself and is narrated by the character throughout the course of the film. Before his fall, Louis explains his version of his life and his upbringing, explaining the good times and the bad times to the audience in a sometimes whimsical manner featuring animations and illustrations. Louis has never had a normal life, and because of his penchant for injuries, this leads his mother to take him to Dr. Perez, played by Oliver Platt, a psychologist who tries to coax answers out of him to get to the root of Louis' problems and to find out if he is self-harming, or worse, to find out if someone at home is abusing him. Louis is sort of an abrasive brat when he talks to Perez, often calling him names and talking in a certain manner that is both childlike and equally nasty. The narration is done this way as well. Meanwhile, in the world outside Louis's mind, his attending physician Dr. Allen Pascal, played by Jamie Dornan, starts to fall for Natalie despite the fact he is already in a rocky marriage. He feels connected to Louis and is very sympathetic towards his mother, all while her ex-husband is on the run as the presumed killer of his own son. Pascal is a very smart doctor, brilliant when it comes to the brain, and yet he doesn't have the common sense to stay away from Natalie. His sympathy quickly turns to affection as the two of them seem to lean and rely on each other during these difficult times in their respective lives. All of these pieces come together as Louis lies in bed, and it appears some of these players aren't telling the whole truth.

Once in a coma, this narration is combined with a "whodunit" type of mystery, some surreal, fantastical elements, as well as a little bit of a sci-fi thriller, too. In fact, many genres are at play here, which can be seen as both a positive and a negative depending on how you look at it. The toying with multiple genres signals an unsure air from the screenplay writer, but is also wildly creative and unique, too. These fantasy, sci-fi elements are far more captivating than any mystery "The 9th Life of Louis Drax" has to offer. This is a fairly compelling tale that manages to keep you mostly engaged, but at the same time, it is a bit uneven in its tone and execution. For a film that is presented as a mystery, it is very predictable and never offers a shocking reveal. Still, it's not the worst film to come out in September 2016, though we're fairly certain no one else gave it the time of day.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 41%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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