The Fountain (2006) Short Review
The Fountain is Darren Aronofsky’s very sombre meditation on some of life’s biggest questions. It covers a wide range of topics that include love, mortality, regret, spirituality, time, rebirth, reincarnation, obsession and acceptance of the inevitable and/or about finding meaning in a loved one’s death more than the meaning of life itself. Or something… There’s a lot thrown at you in this film.
I also think you have to be in the right mood to view it. Aronofsky is not for everyone. His films tend to have a gloominess to them and this is one of his gloomiest. The color scheme is at times bathed in gold and earthy browns, but mostly is quite murky. It stays in the dark almost the entire film. In the end, it does have a hopeful outlook. It is distinct in the film’s entire appearance.
Jackman is at his melodramatic best in this. Jackman is a leading man of the ‘pretty boy’ variety, but it must be said that he delivers in onscreen intensity. He completely throws himself into the part (as he has in all of his films that I’ve seen). If anything he needs to take it down a notch, but he does fit perfectly into Aronofsky’s hyper-realistic melodramas.
Rachel Weisz is endearing in the role of the wife facing imminent mortality. She does a lot with not as much screen time as I expected that she would have. It’s interesting to note that her character exists in the past and the present of the film and is seen very little in the future.
The film is mostly Jackman’s, though. His character’s three anachronistic counterparts dominate the screen time. He rages as the 16th century conquistador, is anguished as the contemporary physician and resides in solemn contemplation as the 26th century spiritualist.
The story depicts a character(s) that exists in the past, present and future . Tom is the central character that is trying to save wife/love from dying. I think the point of the film is found in what happens to Tom’s future and past selves when he arrives at his moment of enlightenment. The other two also have their moments, but when they are illuminated… well… see for yourself.
The film challenges the viewer. It shifts back in forth in time and sometimes they even overlap. There are many symbolic images that are revisited as the story progresses. The symbols themselves are as intertwined as the multple incarnations of the central characters. The stars. The life cycle of a tree. The many reflections of those such as the tattoos that resemble the rings of a tree that represent the tree’s age. The ring….
The first time I saw this I was prepared for something like his previous films Pi and Requiem For A Dream. This was so much slower paced than those that I got a little bored by it. I watched it again, prepared for a slow film and I enjoyed it a lot more. I’ve now seen it maybe 4 times and it’s a much better film than I originally gave it credit for. Aronofsky usually has figuratively stated the obvious by the end of his films, but it’s the way that the end point is arrived at that is so interesting.