The Fountain

Movie Review #738


Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Screenplay by Darren Aronofsky. (Story: Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel.) Produced by Arnon Milchan, Iain Smith, and Eric Watson for Protozoa Pictures, New Regency, and Muse Entertainment Enterprises, presented by Warner Bros. and Regency Enterprises. Starring Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis, Stephen McHattie, Fernando Hernandez, Cliff Curtis, Sean Patrick Thomas, Donna Murphy, Ethan Suplee, Richard McMillan, Lorne Brass, and Anish Majumdar. Cameo: Abraham Aronofsky. Premiered at Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2006. Distributed by Warner Bros. in wide release on November 22, 2006. Rated PG-13: some intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality and language (edited for re-rating). Runs 96 minutes.

Cinemaniac Reviews three stars

I’ve always found Darren Aronofsky a spectacular director. He has gone wrong (his debut “Pi”), and if “The Fountain” does anything in the end, it proves that he doesn’t always go as right as we wish he would. This is the story of an epic novel called The Fountain. Actually, that serves as one-third of the story. The writer of this fictional work-in-progress is a woman dying of a suddenly malignant tumor. That behind-the-scenes look at the writer (Rachel Weisz) serves as another third of the movie. The writer eventually accepts death and hands the book to her husband, who she wills to write the final chapter. He, however, refuses to believe in the inevitability of her death and, though conflicted, refuses to take over for writing for her.  Since this movie is actually two-thirds an epic (the story of The Fountain novel, as well as a sequence that seems to take place in Heaven), I’m not really sure why Aronofsky would limit his world to 96 minutes. But it is what it is, which ultimately is a good movie.

As we’re only sure of half of what’s going on in this whole surreal experience (that being an understatement), the movie brings about much curiosity. I can’t say what this movie was precisely about even now, but I can say I was watching a very interesting film. I do applaud the approach Aronofsky took to The Fountain (the book) story: a search for Eden that plays out not as a Biblical but as a fantastical epic. Still, this story is paralleled with two more, each of them separated by epoch, era, country, or worldliness. We’re talking about a movie that, no matter how you slice it, is odd.

“The Fountain” is also quiet and unassuming, a rarity for a sci-fi/fantasy of the modern Hollywood. But this is not to imply that it is peaceful. Deep down, we are staring at a very dark movie, and we are haunted by the notion that it is staring back at us. (Am I thinking too strongly in the Nietzschean wavelength? Alas, when one looketh into the abyss, the abyss doth look back.) As with any Aronofsky movie, “The Fountain” finalizes in an act of self-destruction. While this isn’t the most graphic or haunting depiction, it’s disappointingly below the standards Aronofsky has set. Watch “Requiem for a Dream” or “Black Swan” to discover just what kind of psychofrantic game Aronofsky loves to play on his films’ climaxes. By most standards, this lead-in to the end is pretty exhilarating, but as a fan of the director, I was expecting a bit more.

On the other hand, the climax presents great symbolism, and more memorably than usual for Aronofsky. I’m referring to the inciting self-destruction scene, which involves ink and blood so relevantly that the scene can only be understood in context with the full movie. But the moment isn’t achieved without Matthew Libatique’s cinematography. “The Fountain” is a breathtaking fascination of extreme closeups and aerial slots. The movie is visually astonishing, with Clint Mansell’s score to complement it. It’s finely established, though, that Libatique, Mansell, and Aronofsky are a trio for the ages. Maybe the feel of “The Fountain” makes it so, but if we’re looking for their true combined chef d’oeuvre, it’s “Requiem for a Dream”.

– Alexander Diminiano

About Sean W. Cooper

Film critic from the East Coast. High school senior, dually enrolled in a university French Cinema course. Fan of all things cinematic. Also pretty crazy for Bob Dylan.
This entry was posted in Movie Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Fountain

  1. Pingback: Lambcast #215 Daranofksy Directrospective | The Vern's Video Vortex.

  2. You know how I feel about this one ;) I thought you’d liked it a lot less, so it’s nice to read your review and see you have a lot of praise for this film.

  3. Jaime R. says:

    Nice review. I don’t think this is Aronofsky’s best film, but it’s definitely a good one. Wouldn’t call it a masterpiece.

  4. CMrok93 says:

    Good review. A bit too ambitious for its own good at times, but man, it’s hard to turn away from.

Your thoughts below:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s