For as long as this film has existed, I’ve been led to believe it sucked. Not just by friends or critics. But by the behavior of people behind its creation. The Fountain was a passion project by director Darren Aronofsky that was originally slated to come out after his masterpiece Requiem For Dream. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were to set star in it. However, late in the game, Pitt and Aronofsky began having creative difference and Pitt walked out on the movie. In the 11th hour, Warner Brother tried to get Russell Crowe to fill in but he declined. Cate Blanchett left after it seemed the film would never get made. The project was finally shelved.
Now that was enough for me to think this film was going to be horrible. Films Pitt seem to have creative differences on tend to end up sucking. See the horrid The Devil’s Own and State Of Play. Aronofsky eventually got to make the film after agreeing to a way less budget and recasting with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The result was a flop at the box office. It was booed at the Venice film festival and maligned by critics.
So, I rushed out right away to see it! No, I waited. Waited until this year to see it. With my expectations set to the proper low standard, I watched the film. As I began to watch it, I kept waiting for whatever it was people saw in it that was so terrible. Ten minutes passed. Then thirty. Then fifty. Then after two hours, the film was over. I sat there as the credits rolled and wondered to myself, “what was so horrible in that?” I didn’t have the desire to bang my head against a wall. Its a film that resonated in my mind days after I saw it (Unlike Some Films I’ve Seen Recently) and the things that resonated weren’t bad.
Don’t get me wrong. The Fountain is not an easy film to watch. Its the love story of two characters who may or may not be three sets of characters spanning three different time periods. (The Wachowskis will attempt a similar feat with Cloud Atlas) Its about the intangible ideas of life and death and ultimately acceptance without bridges or arrows pointing that out to the audience. Its subtext and analogies. So, I can understand why people may hate it.
There are things that can’t be denied about this film, plot structure be damned. Matthew LiBatique, Aronofsky’s long time cinematographer, is literally showing off in this film. The Fountain is a feast for your eyes. This is undoubtedly the BEST performance of Hugh Jackman’s career. He has to carry this film much like Hanks did in Cast Away. And the film will have you asking questions and debating the message it provides for years.
The Fountain is AMBITIOUS filmmaking around a time where most films cower behind the categories of safe and easily marketable. It may appear to be a sh*t sandwich on the surface with its production woes, critical reception and box office failure, but it would be a mistake to dismiss it completely. If you have the time and don’t mind giving your brain a bit of a work out, give it a watch. It isn’t an abomination. And after you watch…it’ll be hard to tell me I’m wrong.