A visually epic film from Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem For A Dream, The Wrestler), it’s a strange mix of styles. It starts with a few soldiers trying to conquer a booby-trap in an ancient world. I immediately thought of ‘The Goonies’ – “Great, I like booby-traps!'”
It soon becomes clear that it’s not that type of film though. For the most part set in the modern day as a scientist/researcher (Tom – Hugh Jackman) desperately working on a cure for brain tumours is on the edge of sanity/rationality because his wife (Izzy – Rachel Weisz) is in the early stages of the disease. She’s coping with it in a much more ‘circle of life’ way than her husband.
She’s written a book to try and get across her viewpoints (The Fountain) and this story forms the metaphorical story within the story of the conquistador and booby-traps. She writes the book which mirrors/explains reality in an ‘Adaptation’ style. There’s also a third, future version of the characters rushing towards the Orion nebula in a tiny shrouded ecosystem. The three strands intermesh in quite a nice style and are open to your own interpreting (the past and future are all imagined in Tom’s head I as took it, with ‘Groundhog Day style reliving of events).
The soundtrack is good and complementing, visually it’s great too and there are lots of extreme close-ups which suit the very intense acting styles, but the real problem is the story. It’s just a bit empty. One of the strands (future) is a bit reminiscent of the end of ‘2001’, which is not a comparison anyone would take as a complement. The conquistador story has a good ending, but on the whole it’s a very unsatisfactory walk through what might be better story if it concentrated on two of the strands (modern day and past) and left the floaty, hippy yoga ecosystem in the bin.
Starts promising, then just flabs to a finish. Pretentious, but ambitious at least.
2 on 5
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz
UK Release: 26th January 2007