If there is an underlying theme to Aronofsky's work, it's that of fantastic art not quite finished or fully envisioned. With the exception of Black Swan, each of his films are interesting and at times compelling but suffer a sense of being incomplete. The Fountain is perhaps the best example of this. A combination of themes found in The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, Interstellar, 2001 and a number of other transcendent films, The Fountain is visually fascinating, fairly well acted and in certain moments, quite brilliant. However, the lack of budget certainly shows in Aronofsky's darkened, micro cinematography, which produces some interesting visuals but ultimately shrouds the movie in a rather annoying shadow. The cast and set also feel a bit half-baked as well. Jackman and Weisz are very capable leads but somehow they just don't feel quite at home, probably a reflection of the second string nature of their casting, leading to a movie that wasn't written for them. Ideologically, Aronofsky has stated that the film is a Rubik's cube open to interpretation but as with all films of this scope, there is a fine line between tangled threads and threads woven together to form something great. Sometimes they look the same but at the end of the day, only one is being made into something beautiful. The Fountain feels like the former, a jumble of reused shots, incoherent timelines, Michael Bay like movement sequences and confusing backstory. The result just never comes together like great films like Cloud Atlas and The Matrix do. Instead, Aronofsky's creation just sort of trickles out at the end, a pretty limp, unsure finish for a movie so bold. Ultimately, although I suspect that this lack of clear vision is going to be a significant factor in Aronofsky's long term legacy and short term calling card, one has to wonder what the director might have been able to do with a full budget and his first picks at the helm. Cloud Atlas, a film in a similar grain, was given an unlimited budget practically and the directors were given carte blanche to create and the results are fantastic, even if critics still refuse to acknowledge it. Might Aronofsky have been able to do the same? We will never know. One other note of concern that does manifest itself in The Fountain is Aronofsky's tasteless Spanish timeline. The utilization of Isabella I as a good character was a terrible choice, given the clear historical knowledge of her awful behavior in actually starting the Spanish Inquisition, not fighting it. Why Aronofsky chose that character when he could have easily made his own history is beyond me. Paired with his literally medieval portrayal of Central American indigenous people, this aspect of The Fountain is more than a little cringe-worthy and is clearly something to avoid in a bold film about humanity such as this one. Aronofsky would be wise to note his peer's choices in this matter and should maybe think about taking some direction from better directors like Scott, Nolan, Kubrick and Coppola, whom he clearly admires. Nevertheless, The Fountain is still a pretty compelling film and worth the watch, especially considering the relatively short run time, a really good decision by Aronofsky.