I went downtown to see "The Fountain" tonight at the AMC ridiculously grandiose cineplex downtown. Some reviews I read had the film coming off cold, but I found it beautiful. It wasn't user-friendly, that's for sure, but the interweaving of the three plot threads was inspired in places, and after a while the disjointed vertigo of the first ten minutes or so disapates. I actually thought some of the ways Darren Aronofsky leapt from one thread (one each in the 1500's, present day, and what I assume is the far future) to the next were similar to what I've attempted in one of my novels, where the characters migrate from past to present tense, 1st to 2nd to 3rd person; I really loved this aspect of the film and it comes together wonderfully toward the end. The 1500's Spanish sequence mainly emerges from the manuscript of the contemporary Izzie (Rachel Weisz) and I began to wonder if it was imagined; the resolution of that sequence leads me to believe it is, since Tomas 'dies' in the shadow of the Tree of Life. It provides inspiration, and a warning, I think, to the Tom character, who ultimately does achieve immortality.
Hugh Jackman really shines as a man seeking a higher purpose that ultimately consumes and emiaciates him spiritually. The film isn't so much a quest for eternal life - it starts out that way - as it is a quest to accept death. Life is death, death is life; it's the ultimate subject in some ways, and no work of art will ever summit it, so you can forgive the film its shortcomings there. I had been looking forward to this film ever since I first heard of it (when Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were supposed to be in it - can't imagine it now) and I wasn't disappointed in the least.