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Worth A Look: 18.69%
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8 reviews, 59 user ratings

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Fountain, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The best American film of the year."
5 stars

Izzi (Rachel Weisz) wants her husband Tom (Hugh Jackman) to walk with her in the first snowfall of the year, as theyíve always done. He would like to, but he canít: heís busy trying to find a cure for the brain tumor thatís killing her.

The Fountain, a visually enthralling and emotionally overpowering fantasia by writer-director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream), seems to have baffled many impatient critics and left many audiences cold. At this point, a lone reviewerís quest to save the movie is almost as challenging as Tomís quest to rescue Izzi. But I will try, and I will state it plainly: If you have ever taken my advice to see a movie and found yourself grateful youíd seen it, please go see The Fountain before it leaves theaters. I donít do this often, but there may not be much time left.

Aronofsky has fashioned a spiritual triptych out of the storyís main conflict, a doctorís drive to discover a remedy for his dying wife. Izzi is writing a book, called The Fountain, about a conquistador (Jackman) whose queen (Weisz) sends him to find the Tree of Life, whose sap gives eternal life. There is also the tale of a futuristic man (Jackman) speeding across the cosmos in a bubble that also contains the Tree. Yet underneath all the symbolic trappings is a very simple parable about how love can transcend death because it gives life meaning. Thatís what Tom, throwing himself into research and missing his chance to spend time with Izzi in her final days, must learn.

I admired Aronofskyís 1998 debut Pi, but his 2000 Requiem for a Dream seemed trendy and shallow, not honestly felt. The Fountain is Aronofskyís triumph, an intoxicating blend of luscious cinematography (by Matthew Libatique) and brooding score (by Clint Mansell). Every frame hums with passion; like 2001 and Solaris (both versions), this is an art film in sci-fi dress, speaking eternal truths in the language of light shows. The actors shoulder the three-story burden effortlessly. By now we know Rachel Weisz can be winsome and enchanting, but here she brings a brittle kind of bliss to a woman who has come to terms with her own passing. The real revelation is Hugh Jackman, who jumps without fear into the sort of role that couldíve turned him into a laughingstock ó he brings emotional urgency and transparency to the saga.

The Fountain is a fragile egg, easily cracked in cynical times. Itís sure to be misread as a soft-headed, muddled New Age treatise, but what it actually has to say is a good deal more tough-minded: that you had better love honestly and well in this life, because you donít get a do-over. Death can be transcended but not conquered or denied. In all three incarnations, Tom is in perpetual motion, running away from his loved one towards something he believes will guarantee eternal life with her. Even his future-self ó having lived centuries thanks to his medical breakthrough ó turns away from the spirit of Izzi to hurtle through space towards Xibalba, the dying nebula wherein, he believes, he will be reunited with Izzi. But really the future Tom exists only in Tomís mind ó a cautionary tale of a literal bubble boy, sealed off from life and fixated on an impossible dream ó just as the conquistador Tomas lives only in Izziís imagination. As in The Fisher King, the characters construct fantasy to process painful reality. The results may strike some as pretentious and others, like me, as adventurous and desperately moving.

Approach The Fountain as a love story informed by a grab bag of philosophies ó Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, Mayan, take your pick ó with sumptuous images to match, and youíll have the key to its eternal life. Itís really nothing more complicated than the story of a couple, one of whom embraces life and so embraces death as a part of life, the other of whom tries to control life and death and is ill-equipped to deal with either. Itís a simple story told with Zen directness, its fingers deep in the age-old questions, its eyes and ears wide open to the sensual potential of cinema.

For my money, "The Fountain" is the best that American film has to offer this year. If more movies equally daring and powerful are to be made, this one needs your support.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15011&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/03/06 20:53:44
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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
11/07/14 ugg „ÉĘ„āę„ā∑„É≥ 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
9/28/12 roscoe I couldn't begin to explain it or understand it, but I do know it is terrible. 1 stars
12/08/10 Faraz J Wow..................... wow. 5 stars
6/08/10 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
3/16/09 Greg White Man is chasing soulution, girl wants to be loved, they are pushed for time. Great movie! 5 stars
3/14/09 Paul Krafel Coming to accept death as part of the "fountain" that sustains the universe. 5 stars
1/14/09 FrankNFurter Creative,visually-stimulating feast for the senses.Moving and strange...a triumph. 5 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. great visuals, not so great film... 3 stars
10/21/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
5/12/08 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
1/20/08 Brian Mckay beautiful tale of grief with trippy sci-fi story, reminiscent of 2001 or Silent Running 4 stars
12/07/07 Hello Stranger the ideas introduced in this film is amazing. the music and visuals is an added bonus 5 stars
11/23/07 rishi this movie can only be understood by the mystics at heart-touched my soul 5 stars
9/08/07 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
6/29/07 Indrid Cold The visuals only partially compensate for an incoherent, baffling story. 3 stars
6/07/07 Monday Morning Couldn't make it through the first 15 minutes 1 stars
5/26/07 fools♫gold Some would think it might look bad, but it means everything. Absolutely no accidents. 5 stars
5/26/07 Caiphn Beautiful film. 5 stars
5/18/07 Bob Right on the money. A poor man's Solaris (soderbergh) 2 stars
4/27/07 Craig Excellent story acting, & non-CGI visuals. 5 stars
4/24/07 Twerpy An interesting film that is worth contemplating, but something missing all the same... 4 stars
2/26/07 QH The most underrated and under apreciated movie ever- easily the best movie of 2006 5 stars
2/02/07 myles moving, ambitious, beautiful, will stand the test of time 5 stars
1/27/07 Edith Tide One of those "WTF did I just see?" flicks 2 stars
1/27/07 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
12/31/06 Sofia The life that is worth living forever is not necesarily the one you know as a human. 4 stars
12/26/06 Agent Sands Cannot explain itself, so it's created in a way relative to an impressionist painting. 3 stars
12/19/06 Rebecca This was a waste of time movie, So arsty and pretenious, and no conclusion to back it up! 1 stars
12/15/06 PAG disappointing 2 stars
12/15/06 arnold very deep emotion wonderful movie 5 stars
12/14/06 margie I can not believe the time i wasted. beautiful pictures, yes. but this is the best review 1 stars
12/11/06 Tiffany Didn't like it very much 2 stars
12/10/06 del meh...good movie, bad ending. Tries too hard to be deep. 3 stars
12/09/06 Yoda This is a love story that spans a 1,000 years and transcends death. Absolutely beautiful. 5 stars
12/08/06 Arty It delivers exactly what the reviewer says it promises-keep you thinking about love & death 5 stars
12/04/06 Nighy Oh, you dork call everything with a cryptic ending a "masterpiece." 2 stars
12/01/06 Alyce This review is completely wrong.This movie is the best of 2006. 5 stars
11/30/06 Prichett Three quarters of a great film, then a total train wreck of an ending...ruined it all. 3 stars
11/30/06 Janus Too bad the reviewer has to puke his own inability to appreciate the film out on this page! 5 stars
11/29/06 Marc If you liked 2001, Solaris, you'll like it 5 stars
11/28/06 Tara This is an ignorant, vapid assesment of this movie. It is a masterpiece. 5 stars
11/27/06 your worst goddamn nightmare Emotional, Beautiful; the cinematography, acting, music... Incredible film 5 stars
11/27/06 Patrick Amazing acting..visuals..music..finally a movie that has substance and style 5 stars
11/26/06 mlg Don't waste your money going to see this movie 1 stars
11/26/06 MarkF Story line was so condensed that it was missing a rhythm or meter. Acting was great. Studio 1 stars
11/26/06 Victoria This review is one the money! Speaking of money; I want my $9 back. 2 stars
11/26/06 james This review sums up why I never follow the advice of the critics. The movie is great! 5 stars
11/25/06 Morgan If I was on drugs (really, really good ones) this movie would have still sucked. 1 stars
11/25/06 PP I really liked it. I actually thought it was amazing. You must understand love to like it 4 stars
11/24/06 Leslie I liked the film. It takes a very open mind going into it, though. 5 stars
11/24/06 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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