NEVER SEEN IT: The Fountain



Date released: November 22, 2006

Date watched: September 27, 2013

Why now? Hugh Jackman’s more serious (i.e. non-singing or mutant) roles are intriguing. The Prestige remains perhaps one of my favorite Nolan films, in part because Jackman and Christian Bale are such divine foils for one another. With critics going bananas for Prisoners, the timing seems right to give one of Jackman’s least commercial works a spin.

Why not then? Truth be told? My daughter was a little over one year old; I was working full-time, and getting a master’s degree in literature. Intellectually, I was fried, so a film by notoriously cerebral director Darren Aronofsky was not on my to-do list. I mean, my husband and I were so tired during this period, we had trouble following the plot of The Legend of Zorro.


  • Period costumes juxtaposed with 2001: A Space Odyssey, minimalist sci-fi threads.
  • Breathtaking extreme close-ups of Aronofsky’s then-paramour Rachel Weisz.
  • A tree. Possibly magic, but certainly well lit.
  • Gut-punching visuals and emotional content. After watching Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream the first time, I was too freaked out for like a week to even take a Tylenol. I was also afraid of my refrigerator and wearing a red dress.
  • Some sort of film-as-literature vibe. Many of my literature students have recommended this film to me because they feel I would respond well to it.

What I actually got:

  • Breathtaking visuals: Aronofsky wisely uses special effects to enhance the story, rather than mask the lack of one. Every shot has some level of visual interest. I kept wanting to press pause in order to study the composition of various shots.
  • Gorgeous soundtrack: In any Aronofsky film, the soundtrack always feels like it’s own character. Sometimes it can border on intrusive (I’m talking about you, Black Swan), but is always memorable. The Fountain might be my new favorite.
  • Thought-provoking narrative: What is real? What is a dream? What about that sigh? How much is historically accurate? What does it all mean? I’m not sure, but I have my theories. The fact that the film is complex and open to interpretation makes it compelling. My students probably recommended it to me for just this reason.
  • Despite the complexities of the narrative (which are too rich to dissect in a single post), the story has a strong emotional core that engaged me and made me buy into the plot.
  • Rachel Weisz. I love her. That is all.

One night-in stand or second date potential?

The Fountain is a movie, like Tree of Life and Mulholland Drive,  to be watched more than once and with someone else. My husband and I, now recovered from our new-baby brain voids, need to view this together to discuss it.

amberAmber Kelly-Anderson is a Texas-based writer and literature professor harbouring a long-standing infatuation with film. Her lifelong missions are to Save Ferris and voice a Pixar character.

Read more of Amber’s posts.


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