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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 brianorndorf

"A masterpiece of love and death, but not always in that order"
5 stars

Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” is an old fashioned mind blower. A stunning piece of interpretive cinema, the film is a kaleidoscope of visuals and ideas on the final destination of death. It’s also one of the best pictures of the year.

“The Fountain” is Darren Aronofsky’s finest work to date. He’s a viciously intelligent writer/director with a distancing, calculating touch that left me disinterested in his previous productions (“Pi,” and “Requiem for a Dream”), but here the filmmaker finally values the command of sensory engagement. It’s like a Kubrick film with the one element the maestro could never find during his historic career: emotional availability.

To lay it down in its most bare essentials, “Fountain” is a story tackling three different time periods. Tomas (Hugh Jackman) is a 16th century Conquistador on a bloody hunt though a hidden Mayan temple to retrieve sap from the mythical Tree of Life for his queen (Rachel Weisz), who is desperate for immortality. In 2005, Tom (Jackman) is a doctor frenetically searching for the cure to cancer to save the life of his wife Izzi (Weisz), who is in the final throes of her battle with death. Five hundred years later, Tom travels through space on a quest to reach the place of tranquility that Izzi spoke fondly of, using the Tree as a device to get him to the answers he needs to rest his weary mind.

Aronofsky’s previous efforts were always stirring technical achievements, but lacked the universal themes that can soften up an empty visual exercise. “Fountain” is a story of death, and how the fear of it can block our journey to serenity, prolonging our hell on earth. The Tree of Life, a fountain of youth, is cautiously used as the focal point of the script, set up as a device to investigate the mental breakdown of a man who is looking for hope in all the wrong places. It’s a picture that takes off on wild ideas of morality and sacrifice, but it always returns to where it began: the heart.

Employing most of the same professionals that have followed him throughout his career, Aronofsky mounts another gorgeous production here, using mere peanuts in the funding department to dynamically visualize a millennia of anguish, discovery, and spiritual release. Using shimmering golds and intimidating blacks to color code Tom’s pathway to enlightenment, “Fountain” is a feast for the eyes, embracing the director’s painstaking symmetrical style while rooting the film in ethereal places of wonder to better lift the idea of afterlife mystery off the ground. Whether we are in the muck and splatter of a Mayan battle zone or the peaceful transparent bubble that spirits Tom through the heavens, the visual detail of the picture is stunning, and further enhances the thematic spelunking that Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel are often engaged in.

In performances that can only be described as exquisite, Jackman and Weisz assist their director in opening up this knotty story through their soulful and romantic interpretations of desperation and peace. Essentially playing one lost soul, Jackman foams with remarkable anguish as he performs three separate interpretations of duty, handing in career-defining work. Weisz is the face of love in “The Fountain,” lending the film a flowering emotional core as Izzi finds solace in her fate, and fears her beloved husband won’t be able to share her tranquility in the shadow of death.

While “Fountain” stays pretty close to the heart during the first two acts of the picture, it does gallop off into an interpretive, metaphysical opera for its final movement. Aronofsky layers on spiritual awakening and mental clarity in spectacular ways, pushing Tom through time and space as the character inches closer to his final destination. Had the filmmaker chosen to create an entire movie devoted to obscure notions of salvation, “Fountain” would’ve locked up and shut down. Since the picture has that passionate connection between Tom and Izzi, the audience is invested in their struggles, leaving Aronofsky with a golden ticket to take the story anywhere he wants to go. Where he chooses to go might polarize the audience, but I found it revelatory and profound in ways I never thought I would able to experience with this director.

“The Fountain” is masterful on so many unique levels, presenting a demanding filmgoing experience that should elicit a grand sense of awe on an emotional and spiritual level unlike anything you’ve seen this year.

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originally posted: 11/22/06 17:28:10
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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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