Movies – The Ten Best Movies of the Decade Part 2 – “The Fountain”

No list of great movies is complete without a love story. And “The Fountain” is a great love story.

It’s odd that I’m opening this list with two movies that were critical and commercial semi-failures. Or perhaps not. What matters in the long run with movies is how good they actually are, not how much money they made or how much critics liked them at the time. After all, critics can, and do, change their minds.

To be fair, “The Fountain” is not a movie that eases audiences into anything. It has three plotlines, one set in the 16th century, one set in the modern day and one set in the year 3000 with a bald, tai-chi practicing astronaut in a spaceship that’s just a bubble with a dying tree in it. They share a lot of visual themes, and although the movie refers to the 16th century plotline as a novel Izzie (Rachel Weisz) is writing, that slips away and you view it as essentially the same story told in three different genres.

“The Fountain” can be a hard watch because it is, very much, a movie about loss, pain, and grief. The hero of all three stories is essentially trying to somehow beat death; Tom is trying to beat either overwhelming political forces, brain cancer, or just time, and is so dedicated to his goal he actually neglects the woman he’s trying to save and ignores the potential of his research (he essentially discovers the secret to eternal life and human enlightenment and ignores it because it won’t cure his wife’s cancer).

But, in the end, it’s also a movie about love. Tom is a deeply flawed hero, but one thing is never in doubt: he loves Izzie and wants her to be with him. His realization, in the end, is not so much that he can keep her with him but rather that, at some point, he’s going to have to join her.

“The Fountain” is a movie stunning in its beauty, its emotion, and above all, in its willingness to be itself. Is it a sad love story? It is. But, really, aren’t they all?

Next – “Anti Christ”

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