Is ‘The Fountain’ a beautiful story of love and life conquering death? Of a way to find life through death? Or just a terribly weird and hokey new age film that is, at times, unbelievably difficult to follow? I still can’t decide.
Donna might not be able to decide for her review, but I have no such difficulties. This movie was an astounding combination of misleading marketing, Oscar-nominee positioning, and irrelevant claptrap. The director moved the viewer through three related storylines in a jerky, disconnected manner, woven together with clunky metaphors that served only to remind us that throwing money at a bad story idea will never salvage it.
I was able to follow this movie, I just thought it sucked. The three stories converge in irrelevant and asinine ways, clumsily strung together in an attempt to convince the viewers to wrap themselves in a garment of caring. If you have the good sense to stay away, or you had the misfortune of believing the hype that it had anything to do with an exciting medieval Meso-American adventure, let me lay it out for you, in spoilerific detail:
Tom is a bald guy in a bubble in space with a dying tree. The web site for the movie tells you his name and reveals he’s an astronaut in the twenty-sixth century. He is headed for a nebula the Mayans considered sacred. He is haunted by the visions of Isabel, our dying, brave heroine.
Isabel lives in the modern world, dying of cancer in that delicious way that involves no suffering or symptoms. Her husband Tommy is trying to discover a procedure to save her. He hits upon a process that reverses aging, but it doesn’t seem to cure cancer so he moves on in his work. All Isabel wants is for Tommy to read her unfinished novel about the fountain of youth.
As he reads we get glimpses of the book, and about conquistador Tomas who must save Spain by finding the Fountain of Youth, which is actually the Tree of Life.
Tom, in his bubble, promises the dying tree that it won’t die, even as he eats of it. He languishes over finishing Isabel’s novel for her, a promise made by Tommy.
Tommy discovers too late that his new treatment cures cancer, and Isabel dies.
Tom’s tree dies before he reaches the nebula that is Mayan heaven. Tom finishes the novel by using himself as a Deus et Machina – he appears before the Mayan priest and uses his glowing lotus self to convince the priest that Tomas is a god. Tomas gets to the tree, drinks the sap, and plants grow out of him, perpetuating his existence while killing him.
The tree is reborn as Isabel. The End.
Yes, I get that it’s about the nature of eternal life. The cycles are really quite Pagan. But fastening these three mediocre tales together with Spell-o-tape does nothing more for them than make them an Important Film or, as I like to call it, a monumental pile of crap.