Darren Aronofsky | 93 mins | DVD | 12 / PG-13
The Fountain was one of the more critically divisive films of recent years, eliciting genuine “love it or hate it” reviews all round. I find myself leaning more towards the former. While I can’t claim to fully understand (let alone explain) much of what it means, and while I usually dislike things that can pretentiously be described as “film as poetry” (or similar), there’s something in the qualities of The Fountain that engaged me.
For one thing it looks gorgeous. While the whole film is beautifully shot, it’s hard not to single out the future segments, in which Aronofsky chose to create space with “micro-photography of chemical reactions” rather than the usual CGI. However it was achieved, the important thing is it looks great. Clint Mansell’s score is equally beautiful, both dramatically exciting and romantically tender — sometimes at the same time. Performance-wise, Hugh Jackman is undoubtedly at the centre and is as likeable as ever. It’s only the present-day segments where he really has much to do, in the arguably-clichéd story of a scientist so desperate to find a cure for his wife’s disease he misses out on spending time with her. Rachel Weisz is good as ever as the wife, even if her American accent is occasionally distracting.
Meanwhile, the past segments are essentially an historical adventure movie with some of the plot scenes cut, and the future segments offer near-2001 levels of silent obscurity. By a similar token, the film has an apparently ambiguous finale that, unusually, I’m quite happy to let wash over me. I’m sure there are multiple conclusions a viewer can reach for what it’s ‘about’ — the eternity of love, the repetition of life, or simply a sci-fi/fantasy quest for immortality — but I find myself happy to accept that it may mean one, all, or none of those things and just leave it be. It’s an odd way to feel at the end of a film — not caring about what it meant, but in a good way.
I can only apologise that, a bit like the film, this review is relatively brief, a tad dreamy, and somewhat inconclusive. I can see why some dislike this film, and I think I’d normally be one of them, but in this case something about it captured me. I look forward to seeing it again and, maybe, getting a better idea what it was.