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 The Fountain
Firstly, as a word of warning, if youíre prone to aneurysms, vasospasms or any other potentially life-threatening cerebrovascular brain disorders you probably should avoid this film at all costs. I know itís dreadfully lazy journalism to suggest that a film in which Hugh Jackman dressed as a bald Buddha travelling in giant snow-globe to an interstellar nebular would cause any kind of medical anomaly. So, in that case, permit me to say it just this once: The Fountain is so mystifying and wacky it should at least come with some form of health warning or medical admonition. Then again, if youíre prone to any of the above you probably wouldnít be around to read this review so ignore that last comment. What Iím trying to say is that this film is so damn perplexing, so gleefully abstract and fiercely attention grabbing that Iím surprised my head, in true Scanners style, didnít explode and shower down a cloudburst of brain tissue and skull fragments on everyone in the auditorium. Itís that abstract.

The extraordinarily loose story goes that Hugh Jackman, Wolverine to you and me, plays multiple roles as a figure representing humankind over a thousand year period, from the age of Mayan exploration in the Yucatan by Spanish Conquistadors, to present day America and onwards, 500 years into the future. The hypothetical thread drawing these wildly dissimilar storylines together are the themes of life, death and rebirth resulting in an implausible two hour cinematic head rush and extreme philosophical oddity. Sure there are times in this film when concepts become so tenuously linked and impossible to swallow that it is tempting to sit back and merely process the film ís garish appearance and unabashed pretentiousness but the same can be said for Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey and we are so often told itís a classic.

For that reason it seems only natural that director Darren Aronofsky would want to follow up his 1998 curio Pi, in which a mathematician believes he can break all existence into numerical patterns, with this equally mind-altering gem. A labour of love for Aronofsky, he had intended to release the film over a year ago with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the staring roles but financial setbacks and studio criticism lead to delays in the filmís production and consequent recasting. Instead Rachael Weisz does an admirable job of portraying Jackmanís ailing wife writing a novel about Mayan tribes and resurrection while her husband acts in a desperate bid to find a cure to her terminal illness. Then, of course, you have Jackman and Weisz acting out roles in the wifeís unfinished book and then by this point weíve all, quite literally, lost the plot. Before we know it Aronofsky has us musing about life after death or bearing witness to dead spirits transformed into colossal oak trees. Symbolism is too simple a word to describe The Fountainís fascinating philosophies and moralistic suggestions.

Gee, we all need something to talk about with friends late on a Saturday night and in terms of conversation provoking cinema Aronofsky has gone straight for the jugular. Therefore it is truly refreshing to see a film-maker letting his proverbial hair-down and indulging his countless irrational fantasies. A peculiar filmic vehicle for mutton chopped Mr. Jackman but a great flash of ingenuity from Aronofsky. Mind melting stuffÖ

8 out of 10

Buy The Fountain now at Play.com
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