Cocktails and Movies Take Out Theater: “The Fountain”

by Mike Reyes

This week: A bittersweet love story that spans time and space, asking the question “Is Love Eternal?”

A couple years back I’d gone through a rather rough break-up. It was the third and final time this person and myself had broken up, and I was particularly upset about it all coming to an end the way it did. I had the house to myself one night, and I decided to flip through my Netflix Instant queue, landing on The Fountain as my evening’s viewing choice. I’d heard mixed reviews of the film, but I sought a further education on Darren Aronofsky’s filmography after falling in love with Black Swan during that year’s Best Picture Showcase. What I discovered was a touching and heartbreaking work of art that resonates with me even now.

The Film

The Fountain
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky
Year Released: 2006
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, and Ellen Burstyn.
Rating: R
Runtime:  96 Minutes
Studio: Warner Bros.

Over the course of a millennium, three stories play out in The Fountain: The first is that of Tomas, a conquistador sent by Queen Isabel to find The Tree of Life. The second is that of Dr. Tom Creo, a man hellbent on curing his wife Izzi’s Cancer. The third and final story is that of Tommy, an astronaut in the far flung future who’s ushering the Tree of Life to a dying star in the depths of space. All three stories are told at the same time, inter-cutting between each other as a sort of mini Cloud Atlas, but with a much easier through-line to follow. Tomas/Tom/Tommy and Isabel/Izzi are the two souls that populate these three stories that meditate on the theme of Love through various incarnations. It’s easy to figure out how the three stories tie in at the end, but to ruin it here would be a crime, as that’s part of the fun of Aronofsky’s narrative.

The history of The Fountain almost ended up being another one of Hollywood’s various failed promises to the audience. Originally proposed with a $70 million budget, and Brad Pitt attached in the lead (with Cate Blanchett as his co-star), the film was shelved by Warner Brothers. This allowed Aronofsky to retool his original script, but also to publish the original script as a limited edition graphic novel. However, with a halved budget and two new leads, he went back to work years later, and the final product is one of quiet beauty. The main characters are two souls who share a deep love for each other, a love that manifests itself throughout a thousand years of time.

That love prompts Jackman’s character on a quest at the behest of Weisz’s favor. Each is a conquest in its own right, a call to victory that will secure Jackman’s love of Weisz and vindicate her favor, as well as keep them together just a little bit longer. As each quest progresses, we see Tommy’s determination plow through setback after setback like a steadfast soldier. Yet if he just took a breather and reflected on the state of life in the moment, he would find himself rewarded more richly than he could imagine. The Fountain, at its core, is a romantic interpretation of the Hero’s Journey, and the hero’s tragic flaw is being so goal focused that he can’t enjoy the here and now.

photo courtesy of Warner Bros. / JustJared.com

The visual story telling at work in this movie is something to behold, as Brown, Black, Amber, and White are the dominant colors at work in this film. The pallet will stray from time to time, but Aronofsky makes beautiful use of those limited colors, crafting images that are singular in their imagination. What’s more, Clint Mansell (a frequent collaborator of Aronofsky’s) wrote an absolutely gorgeous score to this film that underscores all of the emotions on the screen, without being overblown. Death Is The Road To Awe is a stand out track from the film’s music, as it scores a particularly beautiful moment in the film. But of course the bedrock of why this film works, besides Aronofsky’s writing of course, is the performances between Jackman and Weisz. Playing different souls through different times, with common ambitions and personalities, they only further bind the narrative’s structure together in a cohesive and emotionally devastating film.

It might seem weird that I’m proposing this as a pre-Valentine’s Day pick, especially with the connection to the end of a relationship, but as I revisit this film I find myself at another emotional crossroads. One of my cats passed away a couple of weekends ago. I came home and noticed that she didn’t come when I called, and a search of my room turned up ending the way a person can never truly prepare for. I lost a loved one, and I’m still dealing with it. I get better each passing day, but I’ve struggled with thoughts of mortality, of the absence of a loved one, and just what happens after all of this ends. I wanted to memorialize my feelings for my pet somehow, and as I write this review, this seems to be a really good start. Ultimately,  The Fountain is a movie that you can watch not only to reflect on the mortality of life and immortality of affection, but also a film you can watch with a loved one, to remind you that you shouldn’t focus too much on the the Future or the Past. If you do, you might just miss what’s in front of you.

And now, to push the weight of current matters to the side, let’s have some fun with this week’s drink entry!

The Drink

In honor of the film’s visual palette, this week’s proposed drink is none other than:

The Fruity Creamsicle Martini

photo courtesy of Hungry Girl

Ingredients

Amaretto almond liqueur (two parts)
Triple sec (one part)
Sweet and sour mix (two parts)
Orange juice (four parts)
A dash of soda water

Instructions

Take all the ingredients in a martini shaker filed with ice and mix them using a martini stirrer. Strain the creamsicle martini recipe mixture into a highball glass and serve chilled.

Thanks to MartiniGuide.net for the recipe, and thanks to you all for stopping by for this week’s #TakeOutTheater! If you happen to have any suggestions for drinks or films we should feature here, send us a line on our Facebook/Twitter feed, or send us an email/comment.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!