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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 traveler, traveling 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. Written by
The map used by the conquistadors to find the Tree of Life is erroneous. The priest says the three points which form an equilateral triangle on the map are Chichen Itza, Yaxchilan, and Tikal. However in reality, the three Mayan sites form an obtuse triangle, with Chichen Itza being the northern-most and the eastern-most point. See more »
I had the immense pleasure of viewing this film for its second screening ever, when it was showcased at Chicago's International Film Festival. Fans of Aronofsky who enjoyed the intensity of 'PI' and 'REQUIEM FOR A DREAM' will find that Darren's primary thematic focus has shifted yet again from the mind and gut ('PI' and 'REQUIEM', respectively) to the heart. However, don't take this to mean that 'THE FOUNTAIN' isn't intellectually engaging or visceral in its impact.
In a word, this film is warm. Aronofsky's palette for his third feature is a swirling miasma of golden yellows, and it sets the tone for the work. 'THE FOUNTAIN' is a life-affirming treatise on the eternity of love. Cynical hacks might decry this as a mawkish, facile rumination of saccharine proportions, but despite the sentimental themes, the film is never cloying, opting instead for a (sur)realistic portrayal of the nuances of one of life's most powerful emotions.
The casting was superb: Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman are outstanding in their roles, with both offering utterly believable performances. Weisz reveals the same depths she did in 'THE CONSTANT GARDENER', portraying myriad subtleties in a role that could've easily been misplayed, starring as Jackman's love throughout time. For those who've only seen Jackman in action-oriented mutant movies, his command of his character's strengths AND frailties is a welcome surprise. The supporting cast was excellent as well, with Ellen Burstyn standing out in particular.
Special effects were phenomenal, even without taking the film's halved budget into consideration. I won't spoil the surprise, but when you find out how Aronofsky and Co. achieved some of the extraordinary images, you're sure to be impressed (and reminded of a film classic from over 25 years ago). This is not a film to rely on FX, though. In fact, the segment (not scene; the story is split across three time periods) using the bulk of the effects is probably the shortest.
Aronofsky ambitiously tackles heavy themes and concepts and he does it in a little over 90 minutes. I didn't realize how short the film was until it was over. However, 'THE FOUNTAIN's brevity could also be perceived as an extension of one of its themes: learning to appreciate the world and its beauty in whatever time we are allotted.
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