Film review: The Fountain (2006), written and directed by Darren Aronofsky
In the real world, Tom Creo (Hugh Jackman) is a doctor (or something?) trying to find a cure for brain tumours, before his darling wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz) dies from the very same condition. He decides to use a specimen collected from a tree, which seems to reverse aging in a monkey, but will it work on brain tumours?
In the fantasy world created by Izzi writing a book, a Spanish man, Tomas (Jackman) gets sent on a mission by Queen Isabel (Weisz) to Central or South America to find the Tree of Life.
And then there’s a bloke floating through space in a bubble, where he paints his arms and eats bark off a dying tree.
The three different settings mix freely, so one moment, you’re with a man desperate to find a cure for cancer in order to save his wife, and the next, you’re with some Conquistadors, or floating through space in some sort of Zen-like manner.
Also starring Ellen Burstyn as Dr. Lillian Guzetti, Stephen McHattie as Grand Inquisitor Silecio, and Cliff Curtis as Captain Ariel. There are lab monkeys too, whose heads get cut open (well, certainly not for real, there would be hell to pay!), and animal testing is not something I look kindly on, so that made for a challenging watch, as if the cancer issue wasn’t heavy enough.
“Uhm …” was my spontaneous reaction, after being sold on a description mentioning fantasy world, love and Hugh Jackman and encountered … this. It’s a bizarre film, on the whole, and utterly heartbreaking … and oddly beautiful, at the same time. I can’t begin to really understand it, because I’m not that kind of person who “gets” these kinds of film, frankly. I can understand Tom’s desperation in trying to save the love of his life from dying, but the rest goes straight over my head.
But it’s beautiful, somehow, which also puzzles me. Why do I think it’s beautiful when I struggle to even understand what it’s trying to say? It very nearly brought me to tears at times, that’s for sure. It’s hard to watch someone lose their loved one, even if it’s a little at a time. Or maybe the gradual thing is what makes it worse?
The Fountain highly emotional and Jackman in particular gives a fantastic performance. On the whole, though, I still frown and think “what the hell was that all about?” when thinking back on it. So, hmm, The Fountain is a tricky film to try and place. It’s certainly not bad, but it’s too far out there for me to consider it really good. And there’s that dark, yellowy tinge to it all as well, which just makes it feel all arty, bleargh.
3 out of 5 wedding rings. Would’ve been higher if I had understood it, and it would have been lower if it wasn’t so goshdarn beautiful.