‘The Fountain’: an overflow of effects and storytelling

Ally Melling

‘Requiem’ director creates stunning film

Nearly five years since its initial production, Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain has finally poured forth as a brilliant and intense piece of modern cinema.

With few but extremely popular films under his belt (1998’s Sundance winner Pi and 2000’s addiction drama Requiem for a Dream), Aronofsky continues in his streak of delivering highly original and visually stunning films to make an audience think. In The Fountain, Aronofsky’s flair for imagery is kicked into high gear and countered by the relativity of a compelling human relationship.

The relationship of The Fountain connects two souls, a husband and wife named Tommy and Izzi (Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz). The relationship spans through three separate but intertwined settings. In the main, modern setting, Tommy experiments desperately with animals to find a cure for Izzi’s fatal illness.

While dying, Izzi presents Tommy with a book she is writing about a 16th century quest to find a tree harnessing the Fountain of Youth. Their relationship is then shown with Tommy as a conquistador who travels to Mayan ruins, seeking eternal life for his Spanish Queen Isabella.

Finally, Tommy is shown in a futuristic setting where he travels through space, accompanied by memories of Izzi and Izzi herself in the form of the mythical tree of eternal life.

This may sound confusing, and it’s true – The Fountain is more abstract than your ordinary film. Many of the film’s themes are evident: life, death, love and spirituality.

The audience relates to the pain of a man wanting to prolong the life of someone he loves. However, the film’s openness for interpretation also sets it apart from other movies.

Jackman (X-Men, The Prestige) plays a dedicated explorer, displaying an amazing level of sincerity and emotion as he struggles to save the one he loves. Whether searching for a cure, a grail or enlightenment in various centuries, he gives an astounding performance in each instance. His eyes alone speak with enough intensity to deem him Oscar worthy.

Weisz (Constantine, The Constant Gardener) is equally amazing and displays emotion that redefines the typical dramatic female lead. As a dying woman coming to grips with an imminent end, she gives complexity. As a regal queen, she defies the threat of the Inquisition with nobility.

Visually, The Fountain satisfies every taste of the artistic eye. Creative angles and close-ups of skin and faces remind the audience of the humanity the film focuses on. The visual effects – especially the outer-space-based ones — are outstanding far beyond the level 2001: A Space Odyssey dared envision. Aronofsky achieved these effects not by dated CGI but by using petri-dish chemical reactions and microphotography.

Fans of Requiem for a Dream may also be delighted to recognize Clint Mansell’s music as he again scores with the Kronos String Quartet and receives additional help from the popular band Mogwai.

Though its budget was significantly reduced and its leads were later replaced (originally, it was Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), The Fountain is better for it.

Aronofsky achieves a new standard as a modern storyteller with the final product’s numerous themes, thoughtful content and existential vision. Any other version of this awesome film would have lacked the awe.

Contact ALL correspondent Ally Melling at [email protected].

The Fountain

Starring Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Ethan Suplee

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Distributed by Warner Bros. Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality and language

Stater rating (out of five): ?????