The Fountain was one of the most eagerly anticipated releases for me last year. I think it was the combination of having enjoyed Darren Aronofsky’s previous films coupled with the mystique that the trailer hinted at. I almost made the trip to see the movie last year, but it was in such limited release that it just kinda came and left before I had a chance to check it out. And so, with great patience, I decided not to download any versions of the movie, but to wait and check it out on my screen — the next best thing to checking it out in the theater. (That is, until the plasma arrives.)
The Fountain stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in a somewhat epic film which deals with the biggest topics imaginable — life and death. More simply put, the two star as “timeless lovers” who are mysteriously together in completely different periods of time — from 16th century Spain to modern day and the story extends to the 25th Century. It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out that the subject of “the fountain” relates to the myth of “the fountain of youth”, but it relates more heavily to biblical themes centered around the mysteries of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, the Tree of Life and mostly the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” discussed in The Book of Genesis.
I went into the film knowing that like the other Aronofsky films (at least Pi, anyhow) that I probably wouldn’t “get” everything. At least not on the first sitting. And after having seen it, of course I was right. But disappointingly, I think I “got” most of what the film was trying to say and unless I’m missing another huge underlying theme, the film isn’t quite as prolific as I had first thought it would be.
First, the good. I thought the film was incredibly well shot. There are lots of golden, green and dark tones. There’s hardly any red or blue in the film at all. It helps to create a mood that does suspend reality and makes it easy to go with these characters throughout time. The effects are very well done. They’re awe-striking enough to be appreciated, but not so overdone that they take away from the already difficult to understand subject matter. Particularly well done are the shots in the future and the images of “the tree”.
Also of note is the acting. Hugh Jackman has to range out a bit here. His character goes through a lot of emotion and he gives a lot of himself to us in the role. This isn’t a drama or anything, but for a sci-fi / psychological film, the acting performance is well done. I’m not particularly a fan of Rachel Weisz. The bias is probably undeserved, but every time I see her on-screen, I feel as if I’m watching “the victim”. She her performance here is a big “drama-heavy”. Lots of crying and emotion. But it’s probably called for, as her character is very essential to the mystery of the movie.
For a film that attempts to delve into a topic of such epic proportions, the film is surprisingly short at about an hour and a half. But for me this turned into about 2 1/2 hours, as I found myself losing interest, rewinding to make sure I saw the scene properly and just struggling to focus on the plot. It jumps around quite a bit. The transitions are well done, so the editing isn’t really the problem. It’s the story. It would be a lot easier for me to stay engaged if I was given a bit more clues along the way of where the film was headed. For a film that I almost gave the ultimate honor and bought from Best Buy sight unseen, I sure am glad that I decided to Netflix this one because I’m pretty sure that will be my last viewing. There’s just not as much here as I thought there would be.
For all of the fans of movies with heavy psychological and zen-like implications, this is a must see. But if you’re looking for a film with some intrigue that actually entertains — even a little bit — this probably isn’t the movie for you. I can’t really recommend this one to anyone except the most hardcore metaphysical / psychological fans. Here’s hoping that the future Aronofsky films will be more like his initial efforts and less like this one.