Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Fountain

This review could easily be summed up in one word- wow. But I don't think that would be journalistic for a film review column. I saw this movie back in November with my cohort, Rand, whom I may mention frequently as he sees about 90% of my movies with me. This was a movie that not only blew both of us away visually, but also kept us discussing it for quite some time afterwards (He then went out and bought the graphic novel that was based on it).

This movie was a struggle to make. It was originally planned for production in 2002, with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the lead roles. Pitt left the project due to differences with the script, and with him, the budget fell from $75 million to $35 million. In some regards this is perfectly fine, because the two who replaced them, Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiz, were phenomenal. Darren Aronofsky, the genius behind Pi and Requiem for a Dream again wanted to utilize alternate effects. Instead of using Computer Generated Images for many of the effects shots, he used micro-photography, filming chemical reactions in a petri dish. He said the this would make the movie feel more "organic".

The new cast and the alternate techniques worked wonderfully. The acting is perfect, and it's visually stunning. I don't want to give too much away, but the story is essentially about the search for the fountain of life- over three very distant time periods spanning thousands of years. These three parallel stories are presented in a non-linear fashion, something that seems to be appearing in more and more movies Each story is compelling, and they all tie in together, even more deeply than you think during the entire duration of the movie. I'm not going to lie, there are parts of it that I am still unsure of, and that may be how we're supposed to feel afterwards. I appreciate movies that enable people to have differing, equally valid interpretations.

This movie is science fiction, but it's so much more than that. The science and the fantasy aspects play second fiddle to the relationships between Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiz, and they work so well together. This movie is powerful as well as intriguing, something hard to pull off. The sci-fi twist adds to the plot, but doesn't overwhelm it. The human aspect is still the focus of the story.

On a side note, I also recommend the graphic novel. When the project was shelved, Aronofsky wanted the story told anyway he could, so he got comic book artist Kent Williams to adapt it. This came out in 2005, so it actually predates the movie. Though it follows the same themes and basic plot of the movie, it is actually significantly varied, because Aronofsky gave Williams free reign to interpret it as he saw fit.

It's obvious I am a big fan of Darren Aronofsky. I loved Pi and Requiem for a Dream, and even liked the sci-fi horror movie, Below, which he penned but did not direct. So my opinion may be slightly biased. The Fountain was the movie I looked forward to more than any other this year. and it did not disappoint me. This is certainly not a popcorn movie. If you've not in the right mood for it, you may not enjoy it. If you want something to talk about and move you, however, this is perfect. This is my pick for the best movie of 2006.


1 comment:

bassoonchick said...

i am intrigued... would I like it?