Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Director Of The Month Film Review: Darren Aronofsky - The Fountain

Rating: 9.7/10 - A Masterpiece

As a film reviewer, most of the films I get to watch are pretty dull and uninspiring. Truly remarkable films are few and far between but I guess half the reward of sitting through the most of the nonsense is the hope of catching a true masterpiece every now and again. The Fountain is one of those rare masterpieces.

Director: Darren Aronofsky. Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky. Producers: Arnon Milchan, Iain Smith and Eric Watson. Executive Producer: Nick Wechsler. Cinematographer: Matthew Libatique. Editor: Jay Rabinowitz. Music: Clint Mansell. Production Designer: James Chinlund. Costume Designer: Renee April. Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Starring: Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. Running Time: 96 Minutes.

"Therefore, the Lord God banished Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and placed a flaming sword to protect the tree of life. - Genesis 3:24"

And so begins what I believe to be one of the greatest and most misunderstood films of all time. The Fountain is a powerful story of love and hope in the face of persecution and death that spans over a thousand years from the Mayan jungles in Central America to the furthest reaches of our galaxy. Films about death and our attempts at dealing with it are a dime a dozen but very few of them come even close to matching The Fountain's grand scale and flawless execution.

One of the things that make us as human beings unique in the animal kingdom is our awareness that one day we will die. It is this knowledge that has driven humanity to some of its greatest achievements and it is that same awareness that drives the characters in The Fountain in their extraordinary quest to try and defeat death itself.

Hugh Jackman, in his best performance to date, plays a man who through the course of three lifetimes is on a quest to discover the source of eternal life and live forever with his one true love, played by Rachel Weisz. In the 16th century he is a conquistador during the time of the Spanish Inquisition who, at the behest of his beloved queen, goes on a quest to find the mythical Tree Of Life. In the 21st century he is a scientist in a race against time to find a cure for the cancer that is slowly killing his beloved wife. And in the 26th century, he is a lonely spaceman travelling in the coolest looking eco-friendly spaceship ever, coming towards to the end of his 1000 year journey to attain eternal life.

Everything about this film is pitch perfect. From the acting, to the directing and the screenplay, I can't imagine how one could try to do better because there simply isn't any room for improvement. The visuals, the lighting and the atmosphere of the film is haunting and truly unforgettable. Clint Mansell's score is mesmerising and perfectly captures the spirit of the film. Watch this once and you're guaranteed to want to watch it over and over again to fully immerse yourself in this modern masterpiece. Darren Aronofsky has truly outdone himself with this one.

In case you were wondering, the only reason why I didn't The Fountain a perfect 10 is because I felt Aronofsky dropped the ball a bit with the ending. Some may argue otherwise but I felt that the ending wasn't as conclusive as it could have been. As the film itself so clearly illustrates, there's an unambiguous finality about dying that cannot be avoided despite our best efforts as a species. Only once we fully embrace that fact can we truly live life to it's fullest.

Verdict:  Exhilarating. Awe inspiring. Easily one of the best films of the last decade.

The Fountain is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

No comments: