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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The Fountain, 2006 - Blu-Ray Review

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz
Running Time: 96 minutes

Score: 5.5/10

Thanks to Andy D for this review.

Ok, in theory this is a good film but I’m only going to give it 5.5/10. I know this is in contradiction to the 5 word review, but I guess you’ll have to live with this and put it down to an individuals personnel opinion. I’ll give the film some credence before I explain the middling score I have awarded it. On the plus side it’s got a deep philosophical message and a well imagined vehicle to introduce its philosophy to us and cinematically it’s very well filmed (it looks gorgeous on Blu-ray)… but I have a problem. Some people who know me may say that I have several problems, but what I mean is this film didn’t grab me in the way it should have done. This is a shame because it could have and it should have grabbed me. I’m the perfect target audience for this type of film: I have a great imagination, I enjoy hard philosophical ideas and debates, I’m always willing to meet a film/book/piece of music half way in order to give it a chance to entertain me and I’m well–versed and really enjoy the more challenging surrealist and cloaked approaches to story telling (I’m a huge David Lynch fan).

I’ll sum up right away what didn’t work for me in The Fountain: I simply didn’t care about the main characters. I didn’t care that Rachel Weisz was slowly dieing from malignant cancers and I didn’t care that Hugh Jackman was losing it and unable to control his imminent lose. This film is described on this site else-where as a tear jerker… but not for me it wasn’t. I’m prone to feeling a little choked up from a good movie and this is where my good imagination is at its best. I can normally really feel empathetic with the characters in good movies and I end up feeling what they seem to be feeling. With the Isabel character (Rachel Weisz) I simply wasn’t bothered about her, in fact she slightly annoyed me by being a bit of a martyr. Tomas (Hugh Jackman) was just a to$$er who ends up wrecking her medieval novel by being a typical bloke and taking it in an obscure sci-fi and action-adventure direction. It reminded me of the old e-mail joke about the two school kids trying to write a short story together, ones a typical boy and ones a typical girl. The joke can be read here.

Some people I’ve spoken to about this film didn’t enjoy it for another reason and that was they simply couldn’t follow what was really going on. The film appears to jump from the present to the past and to the future with similar stories being enacted in each era.

If you allow me I will try to explain what I interpreted the film to be doing:

Boy meets girl. Girl slowly dies of cancer. Boy stubbornly and infuriatingly wastes the last precious weeks of their time together trying to find a cure instead of "being there for her". In an attempt to communicate with her idiot boyfriend girl writes a story about her philosophy on life and death which involves the tree of life as a metaphor for returning to the earth on death and being reborn in the flora and fauna of the planet. Girl is close to death, realises she will never complete the book and makes boy promise to finish it in order for him to finally understand her philosophy and so not feel pity for her …and to get over his own selfish miserable outlook on his imminent loss. Boy wastes more time killing monkeys with cancer. Girl dies. Boy becomes even more annoying by storming off during her funeral in a strop, yet is haunted by her request to finish her book. So he gives it a go and, like the typical bloke in the joke above, takes it off in an action-adventure direction which culminates in a fight with a priest at the top of a temple in front of the tree of life. The books' protagonist gets mortally wounded in the fight but embarks on a transcendence in a space bubble with the tree of life which mimics the boys real life transcendence to understanding his girlfriends philosophy. Once he finally understands what his girlfriend was banging on about he realises how she wanted the story to be concluded (the protagonist kills the priest and drinks from the tree of life to cure his wound… which it does by turning him into a bush, and so he lives on, achieving the tongue in cheek immortality …ish) and finally returns to his girlfriends burial place and plants a flower over her grave so she will live on in plant form… once the roots get into her decaying maggot-ridden remains that is. Ah-men.

Here’s my own 5 word review… Man the f*ck up Thomas. 5.5/10