The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky’s long delayed return to feature filmmaking, focuses so extremely on the themes of love, heartache, and loss, it almost becomes a force fed lesson in dying with grace. All the same, it’s a excellent example of a distinct and concise vision by a major American filmmaker, something we don’t see very often anymore. Gone are the fast cut montages and amplified pain of Requiem for a Dream (still a masterpiece in my book), instead replaced with meticulous attention to mise-en-scene and character interaction. The Fountain is much more subdued than his previous work, showing a maturity in the scenes between Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz during the present day segments. On the flip side, Aronofsky consistently relies on Clint Mansell’s music to save/move the slow/dull points throughout the film, and boy does he. His score’s so good you almost forget about the melodrama and the sometimes silly futuristic scenes with Jackman in fully yogi position. The Fountain‘s biggest problem remains it’s self importance. It’s such a simple and clear story, I never felt fully challenged by the narrative, instead taken in by the wonder of the visuals, the sounds, and the overall strong performances.Like Babel, The Fountain is ambitious and problematic in it’s need to be revelatory. A good anti-thesis to Aronofsky‘ vision would be David Gordon Green’s indie gem All the Real Girls, a small, intimate relationship film which poses hard questions about love and timing through beautifully drawn characters. I never felt an opportunity to discover anything outside of what Aronofsky wanted to tell me. Sometimes The Fountain feels more like a sermon than a movie. But I’m still glad the church of Aronofsky’s back in business.