Review of 'The Fountain'

the_fountain.jpg A film that takes place over the span of centuries, in the modern day, “The Fountain” is a story of Tomas (Hugh Jackman) struggling to come to terms with death and the terminal illness of his wife Isabel (Rachel Weisz) but this is echoed in the past with a conquistador in Mayan country attempting to find the tree of life to win the heart of his queen and in the future with the same man floating in a bubble through space towards a dying star with only a tree and his memories for company. The three threads are tied together: The conquistador is part of a story being written by Isabel and the man in the bubble in the future is Tomas having discovered immortality but burdened with his past.

This is a passionate and tragic story that, to me, has echoes of Cloud Atlas with the flitting backwards and forwards in time. However, “The Fountain” is a much simpler story and, perhaps, all the more better for it, concentrating on a man's attempt to stop death but, ultimately, it is a struggle against his own inability to come to terms with something he cannot control. Jackman is great as the frustrated, promising scientist who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal even pushing aside the huge strides he makes in medical science as they do not deliver what he so much desires. He plays to type as a twisted, angry young man using his physicality to maximum effect, conveying his anger in very outward displays of emotion. Opposite is Rachel Weisz as Isabel who very quickly comes to accept the inevitability of her death and calmly tries to sooth the anger and confusion of Tomas…Jackson as the conquistador is a little less convincing though he does a good attempt at Indiana Jones-style action deep in the jungles of Mayan Central America complete with booby traps, crumbling ruins and impossibly fantastic magic.

The future sequences in the space bubble are wonderfully beautiful and poetic with no attempt at explanation or rationalization – this is all emotion and high drama. I suppose the same can be said about Mayan sequences with the focus here more on the fable than the fact (there is a deeply disturbing end to this fable that I will not relate here but is probably the most troubling sequence in the whole film).

A slow-paced though great looking film that deserves attention. Likely it will take time to figure out what is going on, but it is worth the effort as the ultimate message is revealed.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2020-10-18

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2006

Length: 97 minutes

Genre: Melodrama