Let’s get some things straight about this review (and all the reviews I do of my LoveFilm rental list in the future): it’s not going to be like my others. Seeing as though this is my personal ‘space’, I’m gonna loosen the tie a little. Hell, I may even take the tie off completely. See? I’ve started already, by saying hell. This kind of reviewing may be a catastrophic failure, and if so, don’t hesitate to comment and let me know just how terrible I’m doing. If it’s a success, I’ll smugly say I told you so. Also, if you have any films you’d like me to rent and review, comment and I’ll instantly add it to the list.
For anyone who’s ever seen The Fountain, I hope you understand just how hard it is for me to write this. Usually, I have a good idea about what I’m going to write about the film I watched straight away, but I’m at a total loss for words with this one.
Before Darren Aronofsky’s talent became globally recognised with his story about a washed up athlete who can’t let go of the past (The Wrestler), he was a critically acclaimed director who had a knack for making films that almost instantly gained “cult” status. Requiem For A Dream is frequently name dropped in conversations about cult movies, but as soon as Pi is brought up, the crowd disperses and you’re left hanging; it’s a situation I don’t recommend. In 2006, a whole six years after Requiem, The Fountain was released. And true to form, it became a cult hit and financial failure. Starring Hugh “Wolverine” Jackson and Rachel “the one from The Mummy I had a crush on when I was 12″ Weisz, the plot summary describes it as:
Three stories – one each from the past, present, and future – about men in pursuit of eternity with their love. A conquistador in Mayan country searches for the tree of life to free his captive queen; a medical researcher, working with various trees, looks for a cure that will save his dying wife; a space traveller, travelling with an aged tree encapsulated within a bubble, moves toward a dying star that’s wrapped in a nebula; he seeks eternity with his love. The stories intersect and parallel; the quests fail and succeed.
Copying a summary instead of writing my own is lazy, but I couldn’t sum it up myself. Sue me. Actually, scratch that: there’s probably an element of plagiarism to what I just did. So to cover my ass, thank you to the IMDb contributor for that concise summary.
In all serious though, I don’t think there’s only one meaning to this piece of film. Since watching though, I’ve been wondering if it actually does have any meaning to it, or if it’s just presented in such a way that the viewer thinks there is. I have no issues with filmmakers doing that; in fact, I applaud it. So well done Christopher Nolan for making people think they’ve got an IQ of 210 with Inception.
Something that I can’t deny about The Fountain though is that it’s brimming with emotion. Even though I wasn’t fully sure about everything that was happening, what with the cutting narratives, I felt… sad. Throughout pretty much the entire thing, I had a heavy feeling in my stomach, one not too dissimilar to that of the one I got when Frodo left his fellow hobbits at the end of Return Of The King. I’m also man enough to admit I shed a tear too. At both movies.
It also looks beautiful. For a relatively small budget ($35 million), the visual effects impress. Miss Weisz also looks great, even with short hair. Come to think of it, she’s not in it for that long, but the scenes she does show up in are the ones that increased my sadness. Going back to that, I really don’t understand why it affected me so much. For a good part of an hour and a half, there’s little to no coherency. So WHY did I constantly feel like I was about to start blubbing like a baby? I believe that it’s simply because Aronofsky knows how to tap into peoples emotions if they’re willing to give their attention and time to his work. Check his impressively depressing back catalogue: Requiem (I should probably review that some day), The Wrestler, The Fountain, Black Swan. All of these focus on a part of the human nature and how it affects them and the people they love. Whilst his latest attached project doesn’t seem to fit his typical project choices (Machine Man, about an engineer who is targeted by people who want to steal his titanium filled body. So he dropped out of making Wolverine to make a film that pretty much copies that story without the claws?), I’m confident it’ll be fantastic.