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Fantastic in every sense. This film is indeed poetry, and a beautiful
testament to love and the cycle of life, and the impermanence of death.
Wow. The script is tight, and the non-linear presentation works very
well. The scene compositions were exquisite. The score enhanced without
being overbearing, which is so often the case in contemporary film.
The acting is absolutely superb, but then it's got Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. I can't imagine Brad Pitt doing any sort of justice to this film. Darren Aronofsky lucked out in the long run by getting someone who has the range to portray the vast emotions required for Tomas/Tommy/Tom. Weisz has the depth for regal intrigue and spirited grace. Their chemistry makes their stories even more entrancing.
This film does require a thinking brain to be appreciated.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I recently saw this film at the Toronto International Film Festival.I was eagerly anticipating it's release, being a big fan of Pi and Requiem for a Dream. That being said, this is a hard film to watch. It has beautiful cinematography, an amazing score, and very impressive acting, however, I feel that the advertising on the film has been misleading. This is not a love story, nor is it a science fiction film (although it has elements of both).The true core of the film is a man dealing with the idea of mortality. The fact that he, and everyone, especially the woman he loves, is going to die. This is nothing like Requiem for a Dream or Pi, it has a heavier feel to it, though it is not as depressing. Not everyone will like this movie, in fact, I find it hard to believe that this will get a wide release, as it is not a commercial film. It is an art film, a discussion piece, a beautiful poem about the fragility of life and the idea of forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As I am writing this review I really don't know where to begin. It
reminds me of the feeling I had as I left the theatre after the closing
credits rolled on the film absolutely bewildered. I can't even begin
to describe the feelings I left the theatre with, but I can safely say
that no movie has affected me quite like The Fountain has since Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind two years ago (and which is known as my
all-time favourite movie). All summaries and attempts to present the
plot are futile, because it's truly indescribable. Any summaries you
may have read about the plot are null and void truly, don't judge the
film by what it sounds like it will be like. It's a movie you must
experience for yourself. And what an experience it is.
I find it much simpler to focus on the technical aspects of the film, which are, as expected from director Darren Aronofsky, absolutely incredible. His use of camera angles and movements that repeat themselves throughout the film, such as shots from directly above the action, and extensive use of zoom/dolly outs (an important emulation of the film's message, at least what I perceive it is). The entire colour tone of the film is absolutely gorgeous to observe a beautiful combination of gold and black colours. Much of the lighting is sharp but in a soft gold colour, which creates a really specific atmosphere. Many scenes in the film take place in a hospital-type setting the setting you'd normally see in filmed mediums lit with very bright white lighting. Aronofsky lights these scenes with very specific soft golden lights, which place most of the setting in blackness and create an eerie, melancholy atmosphere.
Both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz are absolutely phenomenal in their roles, with Weisz particularly standing out, playing her character with what I can only describe as held-back intensity. It's a performance both of subtlety and of passion at the same time. Extra kudos must be given to Ellen Burstyn who delivers an extremely heartwarming and absolutely brilliant supporting performance.
The musical score by Clint Mansell is absolutely, completely and utterly gorgeous. It's minimalist (serves as quite a polar opposite to the profoundness of the film itself) but extremely intense. It is a score that perfectly emulates the feeling, emotions and mood of the film. It's the perfect type of score, and the melody itself is extremely appealing to the ear, with extensive and almost exclusive use of string instruments.
And of course, the special effects (and when they appear, they are quite prominent) are nothing short of amazing. Just amazing. I have nothing more to add, just see it for yourself and be impressed.
But really, one finds it difficult to remove ones mind from the spectacle that is the film. The Fountain is, quite simply, unlike ANY other film I have ever seen. The only movie it even only slightly resembles in terms of vagueness and atmosphere is 2001: A Space Odyssey, although The Fountain is only ever so slightly more down to earth. This isn't to say that it's an imitation of Space Odyssey nor that it has similar things to say, but you do get that feeling while watching The Fountain that you are experiencing something incredibly profound. And profound it is. I never stopped thinking about the film since I saw it last Saturday, and I still don't think that I fully understand everything the film has to offer. But it is absolutely loaded with substance ripe for interpretation. I have recently developed a theory regarding SOME of the themes of the film, but there is still much to decipher. What is important to say is that it is the type of film in which every single shot. Every single editing decision, every single is thought out right down to the last little detail, because it is all these little details that combine to create the broader picture, the profound meaning.
The Fountain isn't "this year's Eternal Sunshine". It isn't the "next Space Odyssey", although I can assure you, if you enjoyed either of these two films (and preferably both), you should find much The Fountain that will appeal to you. It's a movie that many people will not like, perhaps even hate. But I was profoundly affected by it. See it. Decide for yourself. It's definitely one incredible film experience.
"TheFountain" is a story tackling three different time periods. Tomas
(Hugh Jackman) is a 16th century Conquistador on a bloody hunt though a
hidden Mayan temple to retrieve sap from the mythical Tree of Life for
his queen (Rachel Weisz), who is desperate for immortality. In 2005,
Tom (Jackman) is a doctor frenetically searching for the cure to cancer
to save the life of his wife Izzi (Weisz), who is in the final throes
of her battle with death. Five hundred years later, Tom travels through
space on a quest to reach the place of tranquility that Izzi spoke
fondly of, using the Tree as a device to get him to the answers he
needs to rest his weary mind....
In performances that can only be described as exquisite, Jackman and Weisz assist their director in opening up this knotty story through their soulful and romantic interpretations of desperation and peace. Essentially playing one lost soul, Jackman foams with remarkable anguish as he performs three separate interpretations of duty, handing in career-defining work. Weisz is the face of love in "The Fountain," lending the film a flowering emotional core of the film.
The Fountain" is masterful on so many unique levels, presenting a demanding filmgoing experience that should elicit a grand sense of awe on an emotional and spiritual level unlike anything you've seen this year.
Aronofsky has out done himself again....
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.
This is not a film for any one public. Americans, often ignorant of
philosophy and mythology (by and large) would stumble awkwardly through
much of the film, wondering what the hell is going on. Others still
would prefer to call the film pretentious and drenched in metaphysical
bull----. Woe it is to the archetypes. No one knows how to reach the
elemental, the archetypal arena of human experience anymore; a fact
proved by so many other reviewers penchant for searching for the
"realism" within the movie. (cf. Roger Ebert's review; this is a
thoroughly stupid and ignorant way of viewing such a film...it seems
that the Divine Comedy would be cast aside today, because Dante does
not describe Paradise in a "realistic" fashion. Which of course is
worse than nonsense...its f---ing stupid.)
The problem many people have with this film is that they see it as a story about two people, and not two archetypes that are elemental within human mythology (first man and first woman). It is interesting to note how Jackman becomes Western man (furious and daring, he hopes to reach beyond nature, to become a 'superman,' while not understanding that he is not simply a product of nature but very much a PART of nature) and Weisz becomes the embodiement of Eastern thought (her submission to the truth of nature (death) is not a submission, but an understanding of the tide of life, an understanding Tom, in all his embodiements, does not possess). I see a purity in the representation of first man and first woman, a purity that allows me to see the characters as archetypes that resemble the spiritual forces that have driven us for our eternity.
Ebert said that it is a standard critical practice not to create a fiction that was not implicit within the film; but with a film like The Fountain, there are so many interpretations and meanings...deep thoughts linger in me while I watch, an ocean of experiences that dwells inside me, calm and enveloping. Interpretaions can, in their own rights, be works of art, if what they interpret, in itself, is beautiful. I will not pretend that my interpretation is right, complete, or a work of art; but what I have seen and felt from this film has filled me with something I cannot describe--if the definition was not insufficient, I would call it God--yet so many pass by it with scorn and rolling eyes. I hope some will see in it what I have felt pass through so many times...or at least to understand, at the very least, that just because a movie doesn't touch you, it does not mean that your perception of the movie is, in itself, truth; it is merely an opinion like mine. On art there is no truth, except the pieces we craft ourselves.
Easily the best film I've seen this year. Although definitely not something for everyone, as a lot of people will probably think it's difficult (which it is). But going into the film open-minded, and just taking it all in (the beautiful cinematography/visual effects, powerful writing, wonderful direction) you'll no doubt have the time of your life. It's more thought provoking and emotionally/visually draining than anything else I've ever seen (somewhere along the lines of "Donnie Darko" or "2001"). I can't say enough good things about it honestly. I just can't wait to go see it again. No doubt a movie that will be talked about for years, and will probably be under-appreciated forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I got into a screening by chance a few weeks ago to see a film called
The Fountain up here in New York. I was about to see another film while
a young woman approach my wife and I about a free screening while I was
about to purchase my tickets. Now I have heard that special screenings
are common and they happen at random, so we took her up on her offer
right away and followed her inside the theater to a screening room. Now
considering that the film was free, we were going to take it in stride
that it might not be any good and just go along for the experience.
Long and behold, the movie started and we were treated to one of the
most intelligent and emotional films we have ever seen. Rachel Weisz
and Hugh Jackman play eternal lovers who are destine to live in tragedy
though their several incarnations over time (Past, Present and Future).
Thou these experiences, they are forced to look at the meaning of life
and death and if there is a way to prolong their love thou it all. The
running theme in the film is about acceptance, wheatear it's trying to
live your life to the fullest or to die with dignity and that is more
represented in the present day time line of the film where Huge's
character is trying to save his wife (Rachel's character) from an
inoperable brain tumor. This segment of the film is where the film's
emotional bread and butter come from and in my opinion the best part of
the whole movie. There is a realistic chemistry between Hugh and Rachel
and it carries the far reaching premise of the film with such emotional
gravity that you are able to feel their love for each other. Rachel
Weisz has always been one of my favorite actors and here she delivers
her best performance to date with such passion and such grace that you
can literally feel her inside of your heart. She makes her character a
real three dimensional person, with real flaws, real fears and real
bravery. In any lesser actress's hands, Weisz's role would have been a
sad stereotype of a dying woman who is brave in the face of death, in
Weisz's powerful hands however, she makes her human and that in my
opinion is even more heroic and realistic. Hugh Jackman is
extraordinary as well and this performance will prove to everyone that
he's among the best actors we have around. In any other lesser actor's
hands, Jackman's role would have been the stereotypical man on a
mission to save his wife but in Jackman's hands, he give an emotional
complex performance of a man who is trying to come to grips with his
own fears of loss while watching his wife slowly comes to grips with
her own mortality. The climax of the film is set on some kind of
spiritual plain where all the stories of the characters come together
to give an impression of ever lasting life and renewal.
To make a long review short, it's a great film that my wife and I were completely taken by surprise with and it really had us talking once it was over.
I was lucky enough to see a screening of The Fountain a few days before
the official release date.
The music was hauntingly beautiful.
The use of micro-photography made the visual effects gorgeous. Still-shot images of this movie should be framed and hung wherever there are large groups of people present.
I was engrossed in the story. It's complex, yet basic at its core. I literally felt the tragedy of the situation. And despite connecting with that tragedy emotionally, I couldn't help but sit in awe as the credits began rolling. I felt neither depressed nor hopeful as the experience ended . I just felt spent, moved , and incredibly eager to engage in discussion.
I have a newfound respect for the talent of both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. If I see either of them on the street I will feel compelled to offer a handshake.
I am convinced Darren Aronofsky is going to be regarded as one of the elite directors of our time before his career comes to an end.
Overall, this movie is layered in intriguing elements. I've heard it described as a poem, and I agree entirely. It's like a timeless poem in that it deserves to be revisited, both in viewings and in conversation.
This is one half of a review. Some films need to be seen more than once
to be fully grasped. This is one of them.
I would like to read Paul Schrader's review of this film. Not because he wrote the screenplay for Taxi Driver, but because he wrote a book about "Transcendental Style in Film" and "The Fountain" is certainly in this category of film-making.
Because of Schrader's book, I've been viewing as many films by Dreyer, Ozu, and Bresson, that I can lay my hands on especially those by Robert Bresson. There are many parallels between Aronofsky's film and Bresson, and yet their style is completely different it's like comparing a Tintype photograph with a Van Gogh: Bresson is understated while Aronofsky is over the top. Yet, both directors create films that are best viewed more than once. Both styles leave a lot to the imagination which can be frustrating on the first viewing. I certainly was. This is why I consider this to be one half of a review. I've only seen this film once.
The Fountain has three story lines: one set in the past, one in the present, and one set ostensibly in the future. The three timelines weave in an out of each other like a Chinese puzzle. The past is poetic, the present is realistic, and the future is plausible. Moreover the future be either a real future (as cinematic futures go) or merely a dream of the future. So, this could be a very subjective story that takes place now. It is ambiguous, mysterious, and subject to personal interpretation. In this regard, The Fountain, is very much like the films of Bresson.
Bresson once mentioned that he intentionally avoids the obvious in his film; it is the mystery that propels the viewer's interest forward. Often later scenes reveal the mystery of that earlier enigma. This is a very literary form of film-making. Last night, I was surrounded by people in the audience who wanted every plot detail handed to us on a silver platter. As this was a sneak preview, we all got in for free. Some were probably expecting the extremes of "Requiem for a Dream". A group next to me left early. As I was leaving, I heard a teen say into her cell phone "don't bother to pay for this film wait for it when it is on TV for free". And I agree: if you can tolerate a lot of commercial TV and prefer magazines to books, then you may not like this film. If you read some of the reviews, for Bresson, you'll get some of the same impatience. These are films which break with what you'd expect from a film. Forget that you're in a movie theater; this piece will reward an open mind.
The acting in The Fountain is very dynamic but there was not enough breathing room for empathy. There is only one break in the tension when there could have been more. Instead, to serve the three story lines, the tension feels like one continuous climb. A tearful moment, from one storyline, leads to another tearful moment in another storyline. The group next to me the one that ultimately left were snickering. It feels like overacting, even though each performance is convincing, on its own. So, I felt my empathy in suspension. A different edit would have added more power to the emotional timbre of the acting. I find myself wishing for another 20 minutes of story to draw me in.
The music blended very well with the story they never stood apart, which is ideal for a cinematic score. The visuals, however, did break the suspension of disbelief, on a few occasions. In one case, there was a tracking shot that uses a unique point of view that took me out of the story, thinking "wow, cool shot!", instead of thinking "I wonder where he is going". There is a certain amusement ride feel to some of the cinematography and Special Effects which detracts from the story. But, these shots are not gimmicks. They're premonitions and echoes of action in other sequences. They are crazy bold, like Van Gogh's brushstrokes tracing out a landscape. These bold strokes are the first thing that I notice, about "The Fountain". But, upon reflection, they paint a picture that is rather calm.
I look forward to seeing this movie again.
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