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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.69%
Average: 11.21%
Pretty Bad: 11.21%
Total Crap: 10.28%

8 reviews, 59 user ratings

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Fountain, The
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by Erik Childress

"Like Death Itself, The End Kinda Sucks"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: It’s been six years since director Darren Aronofsky last (or first) wow’ed audiences with his harsh and disturbing drug epic, Requiem for a Dream. In the years since then, his follow-up project has been such a dream itself that there was doubt it would ever materialize into reality. Long thought of as a vehicle for Brad Pitt, this sci-fi tale about the quest for the Fountain of Youth has all the elements in place to stir the minds of science majors with a minor in philosophy. But in its own quest to out-puzzle the conclusion of Kubrick’s 2001, The Fountain will madden audiences’ receptivity not for answers, but coherency.

The search for eternal life will thus span over 1000 years; a tricky feat to pull off in a mere 90 minutes. Story begins sometime in the 16th century where a Ponce de Leon-e conquistador, Tomas (Hugh Jackman), is down to the final leg of finding the fabled Tree of Life. It’s biblical implications provide thoughts of Indiana Jones’ first introduction as he’s left with a couple warriors to fend off a horde of Mayan warriors in a booby-trapped pit. When a fire-branded sword appears to cut his travails short, we are thrust to some period in the future where a now bald Jackman is the Buddha in the Bubble, floating through space eating bark and having memories of an angel-like figure named Izzi (Rachel Weisz).

Flashing back to present time, Jackman is a doctor married to this Izzi who is on the fast track to the pearly gates courtesy of a terminal brain tumor. Determined to find a cure, Jackman’s Tommy tries an experimental treatment on a monkey with a substance his lab “found in that tree” in South America. His team leader (Ellen Burstyn) shows up to chastise his efforts from time to time even as the monkey begins showing signs of an unusual recovery. It’s own tumor isn’t decreasing, but everything else points to a reduction of aged cells and organs. As Tommy struggles to find the missing piece, Izzi has been crafting her own epic. And whaddya know, it’s named The Fountain, written in perfect cursive and without a single white-out. She’s even taken a page from Frodo and left the final chapter blank for her beloved husband to fill in.

This middle section (which, thankfully, commands the story most of the way) coupled with the warrior story written about in Izzi’s unblemished manuscript works because it propels the mysteries of life and death just enough to keep our brains chugging along and gives us the emotional foothold to care for one’s struggle to solve them. The pseudo-intellectual musings about the tree’s powers and the nebula the Mayans believe to be linked to the afterlife are just this side of obtuse to allow viewers to begin forming their own theories about the “death is life” conceits that Izzi purports and we’ll experience visually later.

But that’s about all that’s not obtuse about the narrative spun by Aronofsky and co-writer, Ari Handel. Much like Steven Soderbergh’s take on Solaris, which spoke greater volumes in its silence and truncated length than The Fountain ever does, the repetitious nature of yanking us back and forth and forthback from one time period to the next is destined to frustrate some and anger more just as they’re falling into understanding or appreciating the loaded text. The problems never end for the futuristic bubble boy portion. Apparently referred to as an astronaut in the 26th century, this is precisely the kind of information that’s lost unless you have a handy copy of the press notes or the director whispering commentary into your ear. We assume that this is the same Jackman character from 2006, but in what form? Is he human, leading us to believe that he partaked from Adam & Eve’s shady rib enhancer? Or has he expired and we’re in some version of a heavenly afterlife with memories feeding the tree’s roots in search of Xibalba? After a while you’re likely to stop caring and begin wondering if this Mayan nebula is what inspired the name for Lucas’ flying blue slave owner in The Phantom Menace.

Those boos you may be hearing from those who make it through without walking out are liable to be for the film’s final act as it desperately tries to create its own “star gate” finale but reveals itself in such incomprehensible tones that anyone hanging from the plank is destined to let go. Those who let go long ago will find the concept of Jackman sucking a gooey white substance from the tree of life as about the silliest thing they’ve ever seen until the resulting effect appears of something out of Troll II and contradicts whatever outlook you may have had about the impenetrable bubble trevails. Aronofsky’s strength as a visual pugilist is undeniable, but unlike his hellish finale and multi-story strands of Requiem, The Fountain doesn’t have the lasting human connection despite having ten centuries to find one. Consciousness and paradoxes be damned, but what is the point of everlasting life if there’s not a life or a world worth living for.

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originally posted: 09/23/06 02:16:25
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2006 Fantastic Fest series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2006 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell strange but compellling good visuals 4 stars
11/08/14 ugg モカシン UNITED States private employers added a larger-than-expected 198,000 jobs in February, bols 5 stars
3/28/14 JQ This movie is transcendent, describes my spirituality better than anything else I've seen 5 stars
9/29/12 roscoe I couldn't begin to explain it or understand it, but I do know it is terrible. 1 stars
12/09/10 Faraz J Wow..................... wow. 5 stars
6/09/10 Harvey Scott one of my 200 best, loved it! 4 stars
8/02/09 Homer Sills Very poor movie. Bad directing by Aronofsky. 1 stars
3/17/09 Greg White Man is chasing soulution, girl wants to be loved, they are pushed for time. Great movie! 5 stars
3/15/09 Paul Krafel Coming to accept death as part of the "fountain" that sustains the universe. 5 stars
1/15/09 FrankNFurter Creative,visually-stimulating feast for the senses.Moving and strange...a triumph. 5 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. great visuals, not so great film... 3 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
5/13/08 Cerberus Shoking. Just saw it and i'm still feeling the affection of idea and music. Addictive. 5 stars
3/02/08 SamanthaPayntr beautiful imagery, i love Rachel Weisz! kind of confusing story, but still good. 4 stars
1/21/08 Brian Mckay beautiful tale of grief with trippy sci-fi story, reminiscent of 2001 or Silent Running 4 stars
12/08/07 Hello Stranger the ideas introduced in this film is amazing. the music and visuals is an added bonus 5 stars
11/24/07 rishi this movie can only be understood by the mystics at heart-touched my soul 5 stars
9/09/07 K. Sear Aronofsky is steadily showing he is a truly brilliant film maker. 5 stars
9/03/07 TreeTiger Good description from EricDSnider - however - the movie still needs more substance... 3 stars
7/20/07 pin Great filmmaking. Loved the ending. 5 stars
6/30/07 Indrid Cold The visuals only partially compensate for an incoherent, baffling story. 3 stars
6/08/07 Monday Morning Couldn't make it through the first 15 minutes 1 stars
5/27/07 fools♫gold Some would think it might look bad, but it means everything. Absolutely no accidents. 5 stars
5/27/07 Caiphn Beautiful film. 5 stars
5/19/07 Bob Right on the money. A poor man's Solaris (soderbergh) 2 stars
4/28/07 Craig Excellent story acting, & non-CGI visuals. 5 stars
4/25/07 Twerpy An interesting film that is worth contemplating, but something missing all the same... 4 stars
2/27/07 QH The most underrated and under apreciated movie ever- easily the best movie of 2006 5 stars
2/03/07 myles moving, ambitious, beautiful, will stand the test of time 5 stars
1/28/07 Edith Tide One of those "WTF did I just see?" flicks 2 stars
1/28/07 Gretchen Seitz Getting stuck in exasperating incoherent roles seems to be Rachel's vice! 1 stars
1/24/07 Ashley Corpening What's with repeaterdly showing Orion in position viewable only from Arctic regions? 1 stars
1/01/07 Sofia The life that is worth living forever is not necesarily the one you know as a human. 4 stars
12/27/06 Agent Sands Cannot explain itself, so it's created in a way relative to an impressionist painting. 3 stars
12/20/06 Rebecca This was a waste of time movie, So arsty and pretenious, and no conclusion to back it up! 1 stars
12/16/06 PAG disappointing 2 stars
12/15/06 arnold very deep emotion wonderful movie 5 stars
12/15/06 margie I can not believe the time i wasted. beautiful pictures, yes. but this is the best review 1 stars
12/12/06 Tiffany Didn't like it very much 2 stars
12/11/06 del meh...good movie, bad ending. Tries too hard to be deep. 3 stars
12/10/06 Yoda This is a love story that spans a 1,000 years and transcends death. Absolutely beautiful. 5 stars
12/09/06 Arty It delivers exactly what the reviewer says it promises-keep you thinking about love & death 5 stars
12/05/06 Nighy Oh, you dork call everything with a cryptic ending a "masterpiece." 2 stars
12/02/06 Alyce This review is completely wrong.This movie is the best of 2006. 5 stars
12/01/06 Prichett Three quarters of a great film, then a total train wreck of an ending...ruined it all. 3 stars
12/01/06 Janus Too bad the reviewer has to puke his own inability to appreciate the film out on this page! 5 stars
11/30/06 Marc If you liked 2001, Solaris, you'll like it 5 stars
11/29/06 Tara This is an ignorant, vapid assesment of this movie. It is a masterpiece. 5 stars
11/28/06 your worst goddamn nightmare Emotional, Beautiful; the cinematography, acting, music... Incredible film 5 stars
11/27/06 Patrick Amazing a movie that has substance and style 5 stars
11/27/06 mlg Don't waste your money going to see this movie 1 stars
11/27/06 MarkF Story line was so condensed that it was missing a rhythm or meter. Acting was great. Studio 1 stars
11/27/06 Victoria This review is one the money! Speaking of money; I want my $9 back. 2 stars
11/27/06 james This review sums up why I never follow the advice of the critics. The movie is great! 5 stars
11/26/06 Morgan If I was on drugs (really, really good ones) this movie would have still sucked. 1 stars
11/26/06 PP I really liked it. I actually thought it was amazing. You must understand love to like it 4 stars
11/25/06 Leslie I liked the film. It takes a very open mind going into it, though. 5 stars
11/25/06 Paul Lundgard i have lost 90 minutes of my life i will never get back and it cost me 40 dollars to do it 1 stars
11/23/06 GB David is completely off the mark (and apparently has never seen either Solaris) 4 stars
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  22-Nov-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-May-2007



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