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The Fountain

31 Jan

The Fountain – directed by Darren Aronofsky – Sci-Fi Science Drama. To save his dying wife a brain surgeon leaps into his past and future incarnations in search of a panacea for her. 96 minutes, color, 2006.

* *

As in his dreadful Black Swan, we are faced with an essentially adolescent temperament in the director. This does not mean that brilliant results are not produced, but it’s a false brilliance. Darren Aronofsky often uses the same staff on his films. They are all young males, just a gang of clueless neighborhood boys getting together to talk about stuff. Matthew Libatique films most of them, and does so with an imaginative power that is so striking one almost believes the picture might be saying something. Clint Mansell writes music with such justice to it that one is almost convinced the film might have some content. But no. This becomes blatant when one listens to the dialogue, such that the actors are altogether competent, except when they open their mouths and words come out. Aronofsky especially betrays his immaturity in the way he handles Rachel Weisz. Her character’s life hangs in the balance, but she is made to seem a high school sophomore’s wet dream, just a pretty chick – but why should we care about such a vapid thing? Yet on the Extras we see Weisz on the sound stage, and she is clearly a woman who has moxie, wit, readiness, intelligence, and truth, all of which would have made her an ideal heroine to loose, but none of which is in the film itself. This leaves us with Ellen Burstyn, an actress of limited temperament, and Hugh Jackman who is very talented and whose performance carries the picture – to just outside the Five and Dime. Aronofsky intended audience was who? Adolescents? But this is a sci-fi-sci story about a brain surgeon trying to save the life of his brain-tumored wife, and it involves incarnation stories, which take him back to 1500 and a search for The Tree Of Life in South America and a future in which he is meditating Buddhist. The visual effects throughout, for the most part not computer generated, are remarkable, but kids’ stuff. It is a film about soul without a soul. Science Fiction, like computer games, is adolescent escapism. It is always about initiation. But we cannot feel an initiation when the author has never had one. And Aronofsky has never had one.

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