Ignoring all the reviews, I found myself at Cinemark on Friday watching "The Fountain."
In fact, I took my kids.
During the credits, one of the dozen or so audience members asked, "Did anybody actually LIKE that movie?"
After a moment of silence, a man in the back answered, "I did."
I joined in, saying "I appreciated it as art. Slow, often boring art. But art."
My kids say they kept wanting to like the movie and appreciated the visuals. But they couldn't help but squirm in their seats waiting for something to happen.
This was made by the visionary director Darren Aronofsky, who made "Requiem for a Dream" and "Pi." He's been called the successor to Kubrick.
With "The Fountain," he's created what could have been his greatest masterpiece, a passionate science-fiction that jumps back and forth through time, in telling three stories set in different periods: a Spanish explorer (Hugh Jackman) sent by Queen Isabel (Rachel Weisz) to find the Tree of Life; a medical researcher (Jackman again) trying desparately to find a cure for his dying wife (Weisz again); and a bald future astronaut (Jackman) floating through through space with a tree looking for a dying star.
It may sound confusing, but the plot would have worked if the middle piece had developed Weisz's character as the dying wife. The film becomes about the doctor's obsession, his never-ending drive to keep his wife alive. What Aronofsky doesn't do is make US care about her fate. We simply don't know her.
Consequently, the movie falls apart, its stunning otherworldly images wasted.
"It was just boring," my youngest son declared.
Yeah. Sorry. Next time we'll listen to the damn critics.