16 March 2008

THE FOUNTAIN (Dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2006, US) - Pretentious Cinema of the Worst Kind

The Fountain is without a doubt one of the most pretentious and over done Hollywood wannabe art films I have come across. The world cinema influence on Aronofksy is clearly the Russian master, Tarkovsky, but to make such a statement would be to undermine the brillance of films like Stalker and Solaris. Hollywood has always plagrisied popular mythology and ancient texts without any real sense of guilt or shame, and the Fountain takes a similar approach, bringing together a maze of cultural references to create a film of real pretentious proportions. I have yet to figure out what the film was about, and though it would be easy for critics to misinterpret this film as existing outside the sphere of mainstream Hollywood films, such a conclusion would overlook the fact that this film is no way engineered to be ambigious, ellipitical and artistically profound. The truth is quite stark; the Fountain is a terrible mess of a film, and seems to suggest that Hugh Jackman should never be allowed to act ever again in a Hollywood film. Reflecting upon the failure of Aronofsky's eagerly awaited follow up to the brilliantly inventive, Requiem for a Dream, made me realise the genius of Steven Soderbergh's recent Solaris remake. To begin with, one of the first criticisms is to do with ridiculous and insulting tag lines generated by the Hollywood marketing departments, which all sound the same. In the Fountain's case, the question the film poses is 'What if you could live forever?'. The quest for immortality is one of the oldest of myths which excites society but however when you have Hugh Jackman pretending to be a brainy know it all ape scientist, the suspension of disbelief rule we attach to escapist cinema falls apart very quickly. Mr Jackman is joined by the annoying screen presence of Rachel Weisz who has managed to become a crushingly irritating eye sore in the film, failing to elicite our sympathies with her role as the sentimental patient who now sees the clarity of our existence. Such pretentiousness does not appeal to me in anyway, and this false note is reinforced by many others including uninspiring imagery of Mr Jackman floating through cosmos with a Yul Brynner styled bald head. Originally, the Fountain was supposed to star Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchet who dropped out unexpectedly, leaving behind a film project who's budget was reduced quite significantly. It's not surprising that Brad Pitt left the project as he probably foresaw the potential difficulties Aronofsky would experience in bringing his vision to the screen. The only positive aspect of this film is the breathtaking original score by Clint Mansell; I would recommend buying the soundtrack because it is the only element of the film which indicates what could have been...

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