Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2006. Warner Bros., Regency Enterprises, Protozoa Pictures, New Regency Pictures, Muse Entertainment Enterprises. Story by Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel, Screenplay by Darren Aronofsky. Cinematography by Matthew Libatique. Produced by Arnon Milchan, Iain Smith, Eric Watson. Music by Clint Mansell. Production Design by James Chinlund. Costume Design by Renee April. Film Editing by Jay Rabinowitz. Golden Globe Awards 2006. Toronto International Film Festival 2006.
Darren Aronofsky has created one of the most original-looking films in the last decade (a decade filled with original-looking films, I should add), but his story is far too obscure to be engaging, and his characters too shallow to be sympathetic. In the modern-day city, medical researcher Hugh Jackman performs operations on primates to discover possible ways to cure brain tumours, a quest that is very important to him given that his beautiful wife (Rachel Weisz) is dying of one at home. She is working on a book about the legend of the Tree Of Life, the age-old tale of a knight (also Jackman) who was sent by Queen Isabella (Weisz) to South America to discover the magical tree as written about in the book of Genesis and use it to save Spain from her enemies. Interspersed are scenes of Jackman traveling the stratosphere in the millennia ahead with the legendary Tree in tow, hoping to save it and, at the same time, his love. The connections between these stories are far too scant to make the film cohesive, but that would have been forgivable if we at least cared about the lovers at the centre. Director Darren Aronofsky is obviously in love with his leading lady (with whom he had just become a parent before the film’s release) and makes the whole film about her lovely, charismatic face, but Jackman (despite crying throughout the whole film) isn’t particularly challenging, and the two of them don’t get much out of each other in the way of chemistry. Still, it’s really pretty, and the exceptional musical score is one of the year’s best.