The Fountain (12A)

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The Independent Culture

The Fountain is a romantic, metaphysical quest story which cuts between three different centuries, three different continents, and three different hairstyles. In the present, Hugh Jackman (shaggy and stubbly) plays a medical researcher who's labouring obsessively to synthesise a drug which might save his terminally ill wife, played by Rachel Weisz.

In the second strand, Jackman (rakishly bearded) is a conquistador, sent by Queen Isabel (Weisz again) to locate the Tree of Life in the jungles of Central America. The third segment, set in the distant future, has Jackman (shaven-headed) floating through the universe in a bubble, with only a tree for company. Redolent of Tarkovsky's Solaris, The Fountain is an absorbing, psychedelic labour of love. But Darren Aronofsy's lofty ambition can't overcome some tacky dialogue and effects, nor the film's ultimate philosophical vagueness. The Fountain's message is that life is short, so we should make the most of it, and that's a message which should take one of two centuries, and one or two hairstyles, at most.