Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Fountain. B+

Darren Aronofsky's 'The Fountain' uses three story lines featuring the same actors (Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz) in different roles. In the present time there's a scientist and his ailing wife, in the middle ages a conquistador searching for the tree of life, and in some strange time period, maybe the future, a man travels in space to a strange garden where the Tree of Life has died (I didn't pick this up while watching it, but I've read that the tree is meant to the man's wife). The last of the three stories is easily the weakest in the film emotionally, but visually it's striking. The story of the scientist and his wife is heartfelt and sad, and the tale of the conquistador is intriguing-if slightly out of place. Theses stories obviously means something to Aronofsky, though I felt he didn't really know what while making the movie. They meant something to me as well, but I also can't say for sure why. 'The Fountain' is a meditation on time and mortality, but it must be something more. If not, then that is a major weakness and likely one of the reasons so many people haven't accepted it as quality work. There are other problems as well. I felt that the movie was inconclusive on an emotional level. It never quite achieves whatever goal it set out for. If you were going to write an essay on the movie's themes, it would be difficult to come up with concrete answers. But the movie, despite the ambiguity that surrounds it, still worked wonders for me. The visual effects were surprising and a gift for the eyes. I've read some critics who say that its all just self-indulgent muck. All I know is that my eyes were feasting on the images-you'll know the ones if you've seen the movie. This is a movie that's hard to defend and easy to critique. If you liked the movie, like I did, then you'll probably have a difficult time working an argument as to why it works. The movie's clearly not meant for everyone, so sitting down to it is a bit of a gamble.

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