I am re-publishing this review of mine for the third time. I do it because I'm not quite satisfied with the interest it has generated thus far: I genuinely feel that this movie deserves more noise than it has gotten. So here we go again. Third time's a charm.
Trying to illustrate mankind's universal quest to find the ultimate cure for death is almost something that borders on hubris. Do I think Darren Aronofsky was successful in avoiding all the mundane clichés when attempting such a theme with this movie? I can, without a doubt, say I do. Aronofsky has created a movie that successfully portrays perhaps the most painful thing we can ever experience as humans: love and death. It's a movie whose universe is solely dependent on every single part being placed correct; that every atmosphere has it's own corresponding mindset. If even the slightest bit falls out of synchronization, it all falls apart. Aronofsky's visionary force and monumental metaphorical language keeps that from happening.
This movie weaves a tail that goes on for a thousand years before finally coming to a halt. From the medieval Spain to a highly advanced technological future. In the center of this epic tale we follow scientist Thomas Creo (Hugh Jackman) and his beloved wife Isabel (Rachel Weisz), who suffers from cancer, in all their incarnations. The movie is about the modern mans relationship with death. Aronofsky wants to depict our role in the circle of life, and show how creation and destruction are forever bound together.
Does that sound like some quasi-Buddhist new-age crap? It sure does, if you ask me. However, the movie is saved by Aronofsky never becoming sleazy in his work, and his ability to consistently tell this story.
As brilliant as Aronofsky is, I cannot let all the credit go to him on this one. At first, I was a bit skeptical at Aronofsky's choice regarding actors, but that changed very quickly: both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz make a brilliant effort in this movie and manage to give their respective characters both heart and weight behind them. They both had extremely tough roles to play, especially Weisz who could have easily ended up as a cliché image of "the enlightened woman", and I was surprised beyond belief at how well they got into their roles. Both of these main characters share a nice chemistry between them which makes the story both touching and believable.
With "The Fountain", Aronofsky has created a serious movie about life, death and most of all, love. As with most of his previous movies, this one is much the same in the way that it's either brilliant or horrible. I'm suspecting many will accuse it of being the latter, but personally I found it a very strong movie experience - one that I will carry with me for a long time.