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The Fountain

by

Jeff Nelson

The Fountain has quite a few flaws, but it's still worth a rental.

The Fountain
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/Known for his deep film making with serious tones, Darren Aronofsky shocked audiences with Requiem for a Dream in 2000. I personally call him a man of quality, not quantity. He currently only has five titles that he has directed. Each one is a work of art in its own right. While not all of his films have gone mainstream, they are gems to be noted. His most recent movie, Black Swan, was nominated for Academy Awards, which put him in the spotlight. It's almost an impossible task for a filmmaker to not even have created one dud. I'm sad to report that The Fountain may be just that, but not for the reasons one might expect.

Three parallel threads tell the story of one man's one thousand year struggle to save the woman he loves. The journey begins in 16th century Spain, where conquistador Tomás Creo goes on a search for a tree known to provide eternal life to those who drink its sap. Tommy Creo, a modern-day scientist, searches to find a cure for the cancer that is killing his wife Isabel. The third thread takes place in deep space as a 26th century astronaut, Tom begins to understand the mysteries of life that have had him struggling for more than a century. To put it simply, audiences are sure to be confused during and after the viewing of The Fountain. The film is filled with symbolism and continues to switch between the three parallel stories. One of the biggest issues that gives a large blow to the film is the running time. This is a lot of material to cover and a lot of the stories were clearly cut in order to make this running time. While the dialogue is good, each plot feels rushed and messy. I connected to the story of Tommy the most through his journey of finding a cure to his wife's cancer. It definitely is the most developed out of the three. There are problems with the transition between each story. They're sloppy and the mood changes too abruptly throughout. The ending is a sad one, although the entire movie would have been much better with a longer running time.

The dialogue could have easily come off as cheesy with an incapable cast. This is fortunately not the case. Hugh Jackman plays Tomás, Tommy, and Tom through these stories. Each role required a different type of depth from him, but he pulls it off just fine. One of these roles even involves Jackman performing alone and speaking to a tree. Whether he's with another actor to bounce emotions off of or not, he does well. Rachel Weisz plays both forms of Isabel and Izzy. She's fantastic with her characters, despite her not receiving as much screen time as Hugh Jackman. When both of these actors are on screen together, they feel very believable. If these were actors that weren't able to aid in making the dialogue shine, this could have been a real disaster. Luckily, that was not the case.

Throughout each of the three stories, the atmosphere and tone changes significantly. However, the transition of one tone to the next has issues that branches from the editing. There are times that it feels as if the film was much longer, but a lot of scenes were cut. This leaves the audience with an uneven flow. Even with there being problems with the editing, the visuals are great. The atmosphere throughout may change, but Darren Aronofsky's visual style is clearly present. A great deal of the symbolism is sure to confuse viewers, but those paying close attention and are willing to dissect the film to greater lengths later on will figure quite a bit of it out. Even after taking the time to think about all of the elements seen, I haven't uncovered it all.

Whether or not you appreciate The Fountain, you will identify many flaws. An extended cut would greatly benefit this movie. If an extended edition was to be released, I would be sure to rent it again to see how it improves the fullness of the movie. I can't help but feel quite a bit missing here. I'm a fan of Darren Aronofsky, but this is probably his most flawed project. I understand where he was going with it and his eye for visuals continues to be great. There are sure to be different opinions on the movie since I see audiences split on this one very often. The Fountain has quite a few flaws, but it's still worth a rental.

My Rating = Two and One Half Stars

Next movie: The Tunnel
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