Urban Cinefile
"If you had special X-ray glasses, you could see little angel wings on the back of Mel Gibson's shoulders "  -Helen Hunt on her admiration for Mel
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday March 17, 2018 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Three incarnations of Tomas (Hugh Jackman) search through the ages for a way to 'cure' death. One as a Spanish conquistador in the New Spain, seeking the secret of immortality for his Queen (Rachel Weisz); another as contemporary medical scientist Tommy (Jackman), close to discovering a treatment for his dying wife (Weisz), who is writing her book The Fountain, which links ancient Mayan civilization and a distant nebula; the third as a lone space traveller in a small bubble which also contains the tree of life. In his tortuous and complex journeys, he is always haunted by the presence of the woman he loves.

Review by Louise Keller:
As baffling as it is intriguing, Darren Aronofsky's story about the search for eternal life is told in three narrative strands, which offer more questions than answers. He makes his point by a surreal and symbolic interpretation, weaving the three time-frames together like intricate knots in the twisted bark of an ancient tree. Or the tree of life. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz embody the characters whose relationship is canvassed - through 16th Century Spain, the present day and in a Zen-like future among the stars.

Life, death and mortality are the key issues, and never have they seemed so complex, as Aronofsky jumbles the stories of a conquistador eager to serve his queen, a man distraught about his wife's impending death and the astronaut intent on preserving the embodiment of life on the tree that symbolises it. The two central performances are strong and much of the action draws us in, in tantalising fashion, despite our confusion. Ultimately, the film's frustration is just that. It's confusion and inability to seamlessly and convincingly marry its three disparate sections.

The present day love story between Jackman's scientist Tommy and his beautiful wife Izzi is the one that reverberates most potently. Tommy cannot face the fact that Izzi is going to die and is wracked with guilt as he tries to find a scientific breakthrough to save her life. She aches for him to accept the inevitable, to spend time with her and to find a way to embrace death as an act of creation. The Fountain is the title of the book she is writing - about the old Mayan civilization and how it maps out the secret to eternal life. By asking Tommy to write the final chapter, she is opening the door for his acceptance of life... and death. It's an immensely demanding role for Jackman in all his guises - both physically and emotionally - and once again he shows us he can do anything. Aronofsky uses tight close ups for much of the film, honing in on Jackman's expressive face - his furrowed brow, his desperate eyes. With his head shaved in his futuristic guise coupled with stark lighting, it is only the hint of his trademark, crooked smile that reminds us that we are indeed watching Jackman at work. Profoundly memorable... if not always for the right reasons.

Published June 28, 2007

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

(US, 2006)

CAST: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis, Stephen McHattie, Fernando Hernandez, Cliff Curtis, Sean Patrick Thomas, Donna Murphy

PRODUCER: Arnon Milchan, Iain Smith, Eric Watson

DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky

SCRIPT: Darren Aronofsky

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Libatique

EDITOR: Jay Rabinowitz

MUSIC: Clint Mansell


RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 25, 2007



DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 27, 2007

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018