Monday, September 11, 2017

Movie Review: "The Fountain" (2006)

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

A doctor searches for a cure for cancer to save his dying wife and eventually find a way to stop death itself. In doing so, he eventually finds a much greater meaning to life.

Have you ever heard the phrase "it's a thinker" when discussing a movie? Well, that sentence definitely applies to Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain." Upon initial viewing, one's knee-jerk reaction may be to write this off as a pretentious piece of pseudo-intellectual artsy fartsy bull. We will admit, the first time we watched this film, we almost did. We decided to give it another chance since it has been ten years since our last viewing of it. When we thought about what we observed and discussed our interpretations of how it all went down, the more we pondered it and the more we examined it, the more we liked this film.

The story revolves around a doctor named Tom, played by Hugh Jackman, who is trying to develop a cure for brain cancer and eventually a cure for death. This story runs congruently with a story of a conquistador who is searching for the tree of life. This portion is based on a book written by Tom's wife Isabel, played by Rachel Weisz, who is dying from brain cancer. There is also a third story that takes place far, far in the future as Tom flies on a bubble-like spaceship traveling to a failing star.

"The Fountain" is a beautiful, imaginative film that works heavy in metaphor. It is not one that spoon-feeds information to its audience. The film deals with overall themes of life and the acceptance of death as part of it, how we are all part of a connected universe. It is the character of Tom that must come to this realization as he spends his entire existence searching for a way to conquer death. Jackman puts on a fantastic performance in his role, bringing a lot of passion and emotion to this part. Weisz offers a more subdued but also superb acting display. The visuals throughout this movie are absolutely gorgeous and insanely striking, especially in the future portions of the story.

As we mentioned above, we feel "The Fountain" will not connect with everyone. When it was first released, it even failed to connect with audiences and critics, but it strikes us material that was ahead of its time in 2006, and probably still is today in 2017. This is a film that demands multiple viewings and a little interpretation to fully understand. Also, though we do feel this film open for interpretation, it does appear like director Darren Aronofsky is leading us in a purposeful direction with an ultimate end goal of understanding that death is a part of life. We need to accept it and embrace it like Isabel, not fear it like Tom. If you've gone through a heavy loss, it may do you some good to watch it because it's oddly cathartic in a way. It will have a very different effect on every viewer based on their individual life experiences, but everyone has lost someone at some point.

If you like motion pictures that make you think, ones that don't necessarily tell stories in a traditional fashion, we certainly say give "The Fountain" a try. Even if you have seen it before and didn't enjoy it, we would recommend giving this one a revisit as often opinions can change. The years may have changed you in ways you might not even realize. Some will call this a joyless mess but we went from strongly disliking it to having an understanding of what Aronofsky was trying to deliver even with its jumbled symbolism.
My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 51%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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