I would stay up until the early morning hours awaiting her reply. Unable to fall asleep, I’d leave my computer on the floor and lie in bed, grieving for her. Every so often I would hit Refresh, and the same result would greet me: nothing. I must have repeated this routine every night until I began taking sleep medication.
It would be a lie to write that I have thought of Bella everyday for the past seven years. The truth is, I didn’t have to; she was there without me searching my memories for her. Her absence became a part of my nature, as normal to me now as taking a breath every second.
Too often the visual representations of love that Hollywood conjures on the screen are vapid, only paying lip service to the most powerful of human forces in an attempt to appeal to the widest possible demographic. But before it sounds like I am complaining, I must clarify that this trend has worked to my advantage. Without this surface level Hollywood product, I would have missed out on the rare movies that possess the audacity to examine love in all of its hideous glory, since they would stop being rare.
Pictures such as Atonement, the Before trilogy, Blue is the Warmest Color; these films have burrowed deep into my soul, becoming more like moments experienced than mere movies watched. They have made me feel a less broken, defective man by giving me a glimpse that yes, true love does alter your humanity and there’s no shame in ruing over someone whose face you haven’t seen nor voice heard in seven years.
Does this mean that The Fountain is as phenomenal a film as the ones I listed above? Hardly! Yet its messiness-which is what impedes it from being sublime-is what also grants it its staying power. Were my grief ever to be visualized, it would resemble something like The Fountain: cutting between timelines, consumed by rage and sadness and fear, and surrounded by the woman I love at every turn. There is no order to thoughts, no rationality to be found when the heart is bleeding out. Throughout the entire film, Tommy (Hugh Jackman) is a man possessed to do the impossible, and his heroic efforts are moving to behold.
The atmosphere the film creates is one that absolutely envelops the viewer. Is it melancholia that you’re left with? The sense that the doom of love is an unstoppable fact of life. Or is it hope? The reminder that our bodies are indeed the prison of our spirits, and that there should be gratitude for the brief time we spent in love, making our flesh forget about the woes of the world. What’s certain is that there’s few films with the cumulative effect that The Fountain has had on yours truly (watched it twice in 24 hours!).
A beautiful and tender motion picture that underneath its loopy facade holds a resonant truth, The Fountain may very well be a fairy tale, but its one anchored in raw and unshakable realities. Yes, love transcends every boundary of time and space, but in the end the film settles on a quieter and equally noble note. There’s no weakness in saying bye, and there’s beauty in letting go.