WTF did I just watch?
Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain (2006) is ostensibly a sci-fi drama about a doctor (Hugh Jackman) and his dying wife (Rachel Weisz). Jackman as Tom Creo is on a search to find a cure for his wife Izzi’s cancer before it’s too late. And here’s where I immediately draw the line of incredulity: if Creo is a respected doctor doing experimental trials on monkeys, why in the hell would he think it at all acceptable, after one accidentally successful trial with one sick monkey, that he’s going to inject the same substance into his wife? Why is he even allowed on the project? Isn’t this what we refer to as “a conflict of interests”? Is this movie for people who don’t understand how practical science works?
I have to harp on that point of disbelief because, if you’re going to have a movie filled with incredible, mystic things, at least make the reality portion of your movie firmly based on reality. For, indeed, the rest of the movie is focused on two plot lines, one in which Tom and Izzi are stand-ins for characters on the search for the Tree of Life in the 16th century Spanish conquistador novel Izzi is writing in her last days – aptly titled The Fountain – and the other in which Tom is a…a, um…well, Wikipedia refers to him as a space traveler. I’ll just say he’s bald and in pajamas and Izzi is a dying tree. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say that it seems they drew inspiration from 2001’s Star Child movement, but failed miserably. Oh, so miserably.
More importantly, what is the meaning behind all of this? That despite our most valiant efforts, the ones we love will eventually die? That we’re all going to be joined together in the afterlife? That, in the end, we will return to the earth that we once were? I’m not sure that the movie had a specific message or theme other than to be nonlinear and incoherent and totally out of touch with reality. While the movie may have had its visual perks – there are some undeniably rich and beautiful scenes – it ultimately fails in its inability to provide a story line worth following.