But when I brought it home my mate looked at the cover, wrinkled her nose and said "I'll pass". OK, so much for togetherness! Just one more movie that I'll watch by myself. But hey, that's alright, at least I won't have someone trying to talk to me while the movie is playing.
So one afternoon I turned on the DVD player, cranked the volume on the surround sound, and hit the "play" button. The movie started out with four Spanish conquistadors exploring some dark passageway and being attacked by the native inhabitants. "That's funny", I thought, I was of the impression that this movie was set in modern times. Oh well...
But just as soon as the lead conquistador was captured the scene abruptly changed to a present day medical operating room where doctors are frantically trying to accomplish some sort of procedure on a patient in distress. It is soon revealed that the patient is a monkey and that the medical center is a research center dedicated to life extending experimentation.
Hugh Jackman plays Dr. Tom Creo the head researcher who is obsessed with finding a cure for an obscure brain cancer, the same cancer that is killing his wife Izzy, played by Rachel Weisz. His research includes using rare botanicals and compounds found in nature the world over, and his zeal prompts him to disregard proper protocols in order to obtain his desired result. He is not an egalitarian, nor is he an idealist. He is the most selfish of researchers. He cares only for his own wife, the rest of the world be damned!
In between therapy treatments Izzy works on completing a novel, a story of the Spanish quest to find the "Fountain of Life" which turns out to be the Tree of Life, an image that recurrs at various times in the movie. Interspersed in the movie are scenes from Izzy's book which parallel what is going on in the lives of she and Tom. This device is not novel and it has the effect of slightly confusing the viewer, ME in this case! To make matters MORE confusing some scenes shift hypnotically to a surreal vision, supposedly in Dr. Tom's mind, that has echoes of the drugged out 60's and eastern mysticism mixed with a dash of ancient Mayan spirituality. Almost lost in this "artistic" vision is the main plot device, a man trying to save his beloved's life.
There is no sense in trying to describe these scenes, I'm just not gifted enough to do them justice, but if you check out the website you may get a glimpse of what I am referring to. Dr. Tom, sitting in full lotus position, head shaved, encased in a golden bubble that is rising to the stars. Very strange!
As Izzy finally accepts that she is not going to survive she commissions Dr. Tom to complete the final chapter of her book. He refuses at first, of course, because he cannot accept losing her to death. But in order to work through his grief he allows his wife's vision in her story to help him deal with her death. The process is really a catharsis for Tom, a shift from the death of grief to the life of acceptance and an unknown future.
The thing is, though, I really LIKED the movie! The ads state that it is a "visual feast", whatever THAT is, but I found that by watching without preconceived ideas I was able to let the movie catch my heart and imagination. And although the film is melancholy in tone I found it to be almost cathartic in its effect. The subject of death and the afterlife are always fodder for the imagination, so I tried to put aside my own beliefs and just let the story unfold.
I rate The Fountain *** out of five for imagination and **** for the story itself. I'm just a sucker for the tragic love type of thing. But judging from my past reviews, and readers reactions to the movies reviewed I don't hold out much hope for agreement here. But you know what? I don't care because I LIKED THE MOVIE!!!