A trippy comic book about the search for eternal life. The go-to adjective for Darren Aronofsky’s first film since Requiem for a Dream is “ambitious,” but Métal Hurlant has been churning out stuff like this for decades. In three overlapping stories, Hugh Jackman is a meditating spaceman traveling to a dying star, a conquistador unearthing secrets of the Maya, and a doctor trying to save his wife (Rachel Weisz) from a brain tumor. Weisz also appears as Isabella, queen of Spain. The spiritual mumbo-jumbo never adds up to more than the old saw about death bearing the kernel of life, but the pull of the grief-stricken moments between present-tense Jackman and Weisz is difficult to resist.

The psychedelic visuals are tasty, but when it’s all said and done, I was disappointed with the way the three stories finally hook up. We have to take it on good faith that the low-rent Ken Wilber in the space bubble, the poorly lit Apocalypto outtakes, and the melodrama about the doctor and his dying wife are related in a meaningful way, and The Fountain doesn’t reward that faith very well. It’s a comic book that mistakes itself for something much more profound.

Made me want to watch Solaris again.

The Fountain. Darren Aronofsky, 2006. **

Bonus audio: In honor of Izzy, here’s Phish covering Jimi Hendrix’ Izabella, Madison Square Garden 12/30/97. Totally legal audience recording, which is to say the sound isn’t great.

[audio:Isabella – Phish.mp3]

[tags]film, 2 stars, darren aronofsky, hugh jackman, rachel weisz, space, maya, eternal life, scifi, trippy, spain, inquisition, metal hurlant, audio, phish[/tags]