Film Review: The 9th Life of Louis Drax

9th lifeFrances Winston really liked this whimsical offering from Alexandre Aja

Directed by: Alexandre Aja – Starring: Jamie Dornan, Sarah Gadon, Aiden Longworth, Oliver Platt, Molly Parker, Julian Wadham, Jane McGregor, Barbara Hershey, Aaron Paul

Jamie Dornan seems to be everywhere right now, with the new series of The Fall about to hit screens and two big screen offerings in cinemas – Anthropoid and this rather whimsical fare.

Based on the bestselling book of the same name, by Liz Jensen, this kicks off on the 9th birthday of Louis Drax (Longworth) – the 9th life of the title. He has seemingly always been an accident-prone child, and a lifetime of mishaps culminates in a near fatal fall on his special day. In a coma and clinging to life, his Doctor, Allan Pascal (Dornan) tries to get to the bottom of the child’s accident.

As he gets closer to Louis’s mother, Natalie (Gadon) Louis begins to experience strange occurrences while in his coma. As Allan tries to understand the boy, even talking to his psychiatrist, Dr Perez (Platt) Louis is living in a parallel dream dimension, where reality and fantasy collide. As he gets sucked further and further into this wondrous new world, it appears that it will be more difficult than Dr Pascal thought to get through to him.

As I said, this is somewhat whimsical fare. The story jumps between Louis’ dream state and the real world, but even that reality is extremely heightened. It is almost fairytale-esque in its tone, and features a cast of characters that wouldn’t be out of place in one either.

Dornan does his best strong sensitive here, which will undoubtedly make his multitude of fans go weak at the knees. Meanwhile, young Longworth is a delight as Louis, and actually reminded me of Freddie Highfield in his early roles. Platt provides the stoic voice of sensibility, and is surprisingly warm as Dr Perez, while Gadon, as the mother, runs the gamut between hysterical and calm and caring in equal measure.

If you haven’t read the book, you could be pleasantly surprised by this story. Although quite dark, it has a sense of wonder that it manages to maintain, even in its more serious and downbeat moments. There is some wonderful cinematography, and fantastic sequences in Louis’ coma-induced dream-world, that you simply can’t take your eyes off. It is as if Aja is trying to tap into his audience’s inner child.

This has some wonderful twists and turns along the way, and is an engaging watch. Don’t let the fact that it has a child protagonist put you off, as this is the kind of film that you will talk about for hours afterwards.

A nice antidote to the blockbuster fare that is saturating cinemas at the moment, this is a great date night movie.

In Cinemas Now!

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