The Fountain (12A)



SciFi (2006)
96mins US

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer(s): Darren Aronofsky
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Epic love story charting one man's quest for immortality, set in the 16th century, the present day and the 26th century, where a Conquistador, a scientist and a cosmonaut become embroiled in a heart-breaking race against time to cling onto the woman they love.

Seen that movie? Leave a comment / review here >>

Read Kevin Garnett's Review
Read Heather Von Bourne's Review

LondonNet Film by Kevin Garnett
The Fountain

Darren Aronofsky's new film, The Fountain, would be best described as a series of meditations on the quest for eternal life. Does that sound as awfully pretentious to you as it does to me? Good, hopefully that gives you some idea of what you're getting into with this film...

Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in The fountain. Twentieth Century Fox The Fountain is really made up of three separate stories. Sort of. The vast majority of the celluloid here is devoted to the tale of Dr. Tom Creo (Jackman) and his wife Izzi Creo (Weisz). The decision to focus on this story is particularly disappointing as it is so dreadfully boring. The other two stories mostly feature Hugh Jackman looking funny. In the past, there's Hugh Jackman the Spanish conquistador (apparently converting from Australian to Spanish just entails growing a beard) who is on the search for the tree of eternal life. In the future, we see Hugh Jackman the monk of some sort in a large sphere floating through space.

Perhaps the film would've been made better by a little more development in the past and future stories, but it's hard to say. So little happens in them as it is, however, that they're hardly even necessary. Aronofsky's message in the film would be far subtler if he didn't have three stories to communicate the same theme. Yes, Darren, we get it. The search for eternal life is awfully silly and misguided. I didn't really need this film to teach me that.

I can't be entirely negative about The Fountain, though the positives don't really make this a worthwhile film. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. The scenes involving spaceman Jackman feature an intriguingly made background. Aronofsky eschewed the obvious choice of CGI for the space effects, instead using microphotography of chemical reactions in Petri dishes. A strange choice, certainly, but it proves to be one of the most interesting aspects of the entire film.

Additionally, the soundtrack is good enough to listen to apart from the film. The film is scored by Clint Mansell and the music is performed by Mogwai and the Kronos Quartet. Mogwai's influence is especially clear, as parts of the soundtrack sound like any of their quieter tracks.

Unfortunately, a pretty looking and sounding film is hardly worth seeing. The Fountain is the classic example of style over substance. Aronofsky took a fairly boring story about a couple and proceeded to make it more and more obtuse until he arrived at a point where he could reasonably assume people would just take it as art. That obfuscation also made the film seem impossibly long. I was shocked to discover that this film was only 96 minutes; I felt like I'd been there for hours.

- Kevin Garnett

LondonNet Film by Heather Von Bourne
The Fountain

We live in an age in which people are terrified of getting old. Cosmetic surgery and anti-aging creams are a multi-million dollar industry, promising mere mortals the chance to defy the relentless tick tock of time...

Rachel Weisz in The fountain. Twentieth Century Fox Darren Aronofsky, the cult writer-director of Pi and Requiem For A Dream, ponders immortality and human relationships in this haunting and perplexing love story, set in three very different eras.

The Fountain was booed and lambasted by critics when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September last year. The audience's frustrations are completely understandable - Aronofsky's picture is sometimes impenetrable; it's a work of visual splendour and emotion rather than coherence and rigorous logic. But if you give yourself completely to The Fountain, you're rewarded with a film that has the rare power to stir the heart and move you to tears.

The story, charting one man's quest for immortality, unfolds in 16th century Spain, the present day and 26th century outer space.

Brilliant scientist Tom (Hugh Jackman) is racing against time to save his wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz), who suffers from an aggressive form of cancer. The head of the research facility, Dr Lillian Guzetti (Ellen Burstyn), fears Tommy is spending too much time in the laboratory and too little time with Izzi ("Your wife needs you, why are you here?") Tommy begs to differ, convinced that science holds a solution, and he encourages fellow researchers Antonio (Sean Patrick Thomas), Betty (Donna Murphy) and Manny (Ethan Suplee) to explore every possibility.

Meanwhile, Izzi is writing a book called The Fountain, in which Queen Isabel (Weisz again) commands a Conquistador called Tomas (Jackman again) to find the Fountain of Youth. His quest leads to a Mayan temple and a fight to the death with a brave chief.

Meanwhile, a futuristic space traveller called Tom (Jackman) ascends through the stars in a giant bubble, bound for the Xibalba nebula, the legendary Mayan underworld. Inside the bubble, he tends to a living tree and experiences visions of his late wife (Weisz).

Production designer James Chinlund creates a feast for the senses, contrasting the dark, cold metallic interiors of Tom's research facility with the opulence of Queen Isabel's court and the dazzling lushness of the astronaut's bubble as it drifts through space.

Clint Mansell's simple yet haunting orchestral score is among the best music you will hear all year, tugging the heartstrings as Jackman and Weisz's various alter egos struggle to let go.

Performances from the two leads are excellent, especially the scene in which Izzi explains the Mayan beliefs about the soul rising to become part of a tree. "I'm not afraid any more, Tommy," she whispers. "I'm with you... I'll always be with you." The memory of Aronofsky's film lingers too, like some wondrous, strange, indecipherable dream. While we might not understand The Fountain, it moves us deeply.

- Heather Von Bourne


London Cinemas

From Friday 3rd February
To Thursday 9th February

Not showing at any
London cinemas this week.
From Friday 10th February
To Thursday 16th February

Not showing at any
London cinemas this week.


« Back to Index

Rest of UK and Irish Cinemas

Listed in alphabetical order by city/place name followed by cinema name.

From Friday 3rd February
To Thursday 9th February

- Glasgow, CCA: Centre For Contemporary Arts
From Friday 10th February
To Thursday 16th February

Not showing at any
UK cinemas this week.


« Back to Index