Like his first full-length film "Pi", Darren Aronofsky's under-acknowledged masterpiece, "The Fountain", can be easily dismissed as pointless and pretentious after an initial viewing by the less patient. But a more seasoned cinema lover will at least certainly give it a second chance or more even if he/she ultimately does not end up thinking much of it.
It is difficult to put down a plot synopsis for this visually dazzling film in words without giving most of the story away. Aronofsky shows us three different stories, taking place centuries apart with two central characters played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.
At least two of these stories are very closely related and deal with one man's obsessive quest for eternal love and victory over death.
So in one of the stories in the past, Jackman is a 16th century conquistador sent on a mission by the Spanish Queen Isabella (Weisz).
In the second, seemingly present day story, Jackman is Tom Creo, a research scientist trying desperately to save his wife from dying from a terminal illness. He is putting his heart and soul into finding a cure!
In a distant future (or is it the present?), Jackman is shown in a bubble-shaped spaceship traveling into space with a dying tree, attempting to reach the Xibalba nebula to seek immortality via rebirth!
Aronofsky combines these three stories dealing with themes of eternal love, immortality and rebirth, beautifully in a fashion which will enable viewers to draw parallels and try and make sense of this symbolism-heavy venture. He pulls it off by some clever editing and meticulously executed match-cuts. He also writes scenes with recurring motifs and scatters them across the 90 minute length of the film. There is also some dialog between the two leads that gives considerable clues to us baffled viewers.
Technically the film is brilliant in all areas, with some great visual effects, excellent cinematography and sharp editing. There is enough material in these 90 odd minutes to keep you glued to your seats, if you are up for such films and are not already pulling out your hair out of frustration by the end of the first hour. The original music by Clint Mansell is wonderfully apt to the narrative.
Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz turn in superb performances, and Ellen Burstyn who worked wonders in Aronofsky's earlier "Requiem for a Dream" surprises with a very different performance in her brief screen time.
"The Fountain" is a work of breath-taking originality by the talented Darren Aronofsky and deserves as much attention as his other cult classic "Requiem for a Dream". If nothing else, this film will certainly create a thought of wanting a repeat viewing in your mind. And once you've seen it again, you might be inclined to watch it again....if the initial viewing has not left you entirely disappointed, that is!