A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn't choose, anything is possible.
An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
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
Visually and thematically impressive and touching trying to attribute a narrative context to all of it will be missing the point
Tomas searches Mayan country, seeking the legendary tree of eternal life that offers him the chance to free his captive queen. A medical researcher pushes the bounds of professional ethics as he attempts to extract a natural cure for his dying wife. A traveller in deep space attempts to make it to a dying star wrapped within a nebula in order to spend eternity with his destined love.
The Fountain got mixed reviews when it came out for a short cinema run in the UK. Perhaps understandably because, although he is hailed by some, he is dismissed by others. So far my experiences have seen me fall into the middle ground as Pi didn't totally win me over the way it did others but I did find Requiem for a Dream to be as impressive as I had heard. So I came to the Fountain unsure of what I would find and not sure if I would like it or if I would struggle with how impenetrable the ploy summaries and comments did make it sound. At first glance it does seem this way because the link between the three stories (and the nature of at least two of the them) does make it seem like a concept to be cracked and pieced together. I do think coming at it like this will only lead to frustration. It is my belief that the modern section is real and that the other two exist within the book this explanation helped me as it allowed me to focus on the emotion and themes within these sections rather than trying figure out the exact narrative reason for a bald man inside a spaceship that looks like a bubble.
By doing this I was left with a film that I found interesting from start to finish, with the theme of movement from life to death and perhaps rebirth being one that was explored visually as much as it was in the material. To say it like this does run the risk of making it sound corny but rather, with this approach, it does work really well, layering ideas and themes to awesome effect. The central relationship holds the film together and, although some have criticised the other two threads as weaker, I personally saw them as being as much of the main thread as the main scenes were themselves. I was surprised by how touched I was at points and found myself watching a sci-fi with an intense human story running throughout it (or vice versa I'm not sure).
Some have said that Aronofsky's style as director is a bit cold and distant from his subjects. Technically I agree with that, which is why the performances are all the more important here. While the camera may not be about the heart, the performances must be and accordingly we get a pair of tremendous performances from the two stars. Jackman dominates the film. It must have been difficult to find his character in the midst of so many effects and concepts but he does it and, while you can see a lot of effort is being put in technically in some scenes, he never loses the focus on what he is trying to do. Weisz has less time and less of the material but she does almost as well really connecting with Jackman and making her acceptance of transition seem convincing something I saw as key in the delivery. Burstyn has a small role, while famous faces such as Thomas, Margolis, Curtis and Suplee provide solid turns even if their time is limited.
Although he is cold as a director there is no doubting that Aronofsky is a skilled director with a great creative force. His control of the theme across the film sees Libatique producing a wonderful control of light that I cannot even begin to comprehend how he created what he wanted and managed to capture it on film. The space sequences will catch the eye most but I was just as impressed with the use of light in the present-day scenes as the use of distant light, being just out of the light etc was an excellent visual extension of the theme.
As I expected, on the surface of it this is not an easy film to crack and, although not inaccessible, it is understandable why it didn't rip in a massive mainstream audience. However at its core it is a simple and touching tale, that is cleverly expanded thematically across the bookend threads. While the director and talented crew seem to focus on the technical delivery of the themes, they are matched with a masterful turn from Jackman meaning that the emotion is right there the whole time, holding us in a story that is inventive and technically impressive as much as it is human.
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