Plagued with production problems - most infamously star Brad Pitt exiting over creative differences, causing the film to close down - Darren Aronofsky’s labour of love has been a long time coming. Before rewriting the script and recasting a scaled down second incarnation of the film, Aronofsky even wrote a graphic novel version of his spiritual meditation on love and death. Happily, the finished film is beautifully crafted piece of cerebral science fiction that’s reminiscent of genre classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris, though it has a more emotional core than those films.
At once intimate and epic, The Fountain tells the story of a man named Tomas/Tommy (Hugh Jackman) who loves a woman named Isabel/Izzi (Rachel Weisz) through three millennia - 16th century Spain, the present and the far-flung 26th century.
The film unspools in a complicated box-within-a-box-within-a-box structure, seguing back and forth from one story to another and drawing emotional, thematic and stylistic parallels. The visuals, from a ruined Mayan temple to an interstellar flight, are dazzling. So too is the minutiae of the film, such as the moments of tenderness between Tommy and Izzi, which are shot so intimately it looks like Aronofsky used a microscope. And at the centre of all this impressive cinematic trickery is an affecting study of how men and women deal differently with death.
General release from Fri 26 Jan.