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THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX Film Review
Directed By Alexandre Aja
Genre: Mystery - Thriller
THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX is a modern day fable which attempts the trick of telling an adult story from the point of view of a child.
Our sporadically reliable narration comes courtesy of Aiden Longworth, who is entirely believable as a 9 year old whose existence is framed by a series of strange accidents. The latest and most serious of these puts him in a coma, and leads to the disappearance of his father (Aaron Paul), and the arrival of a neuro specialist (Jamie Dornan), who is intent on solving the mystery.
The story is handsomely lensed by Maxime Alexandrein in a softly lit style which transitions from reality to constructed reality, as Louis (coma status notwithstanding) takes us on a journey through his real and imagined worlds.
Narratively speaking THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX sets itself a challenge, in that it begins with the hero in a coma, and then sets about telling the story via ancillary characters. Lacking the thread of an active hero, it falls to these characters to support the plot, which they do with various degrees of success.
Sarah Gadon plays Louis’ mother as an enigmatic figure, since in his world she occupies a mythical status which renders him blind to her many human failings. Jamie Dornan does not quite convince as a brain expert, but Oliver Platt definitely does, as a seasoned psychologist who speaks to Louis (in flashback) on his own terms. The standout here is Aaron Paul, who has gone from Heizenberg’s reluctant sidekick to a deeply captivating actor who makes us wish we saw more of his slightly underwritten role.
Based as it is on a novel, THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX is a story which requires careful adaptation to maintain its pacing, and might have benefitted from a more structured approach. As such it feels bookish in places, leaving its leads to pick up the slack where a novel would have no problem jumping between various episodes.
Altogether, THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX an ambitious little fairytale with ably filled support roles which divert us from the occasional pacing or tonal misstep.
THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX is out now on DVD
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