DVD Review - The 9th Life of Louis Drax

This film was released theatrically in September 2016. It was adapted from Liz Jensen's 2004 novel. It draws comparisons to A Monster Calls, a film released in December and adapted from Patrick Ness' 2011 novel. It draws comparisons because both stories center on a child protagonist who deals with the grief and trauma he's experiencing by communicating with a man-like yet hideous creature, a creature that is ultimately paternal and gives the boy guidance. A Monster Calls manifests that creature as a giant, anthropomorphized tree. This movie has that creature as a slimy, lizard or amphibious thing slithering from the sea.

Written by Max Minghella, this movie has the child narrating the story and that child is the protagonist but he isn't the one we follow. The movie instead follows the child's doctor and the child's mother. The movie becomes more interested in the relationship between the doctor and the mother, though there is no real reason why. The movie as the book probably wanted a psycho-sexual thriller, which simply makes no sense on any level.

Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) stars as Allan Pascal, a pediatrician who specializes in neuroscience. He's married but has no children of his own. He works mainly with children though. He's called into action when a child has a near-death experience and results in a coma. Allan takes the case when the boy shows a surprising survival. It's not overt, but he also takes an interest or has an attraction to the boy's mother.

Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold) co-stars as Natalie Drax, the aforementioned mother of the boy in the coma. She seems like the dutiful parent by the side of her child. She's a beautiful blonde who has no trouble getting the attention of men. It's not overt either but she displays romantic interest in Allan, despite knowing he's married. Again, it's never explained why.

The central mystery revolves around what happened that caused the boy to end up in his coma and why. Molly Parker (House of Cards) co-stars as Inspector Dalton, the police official investigating that mystery. Her presence is almost unnecessary and forgettable. She practically doesn't matter. I don't know why the movie even wastes time with her.

Oliver Platt (Chicago Med) also co-stars as Michael Perez, the therapist who works with the boy in question prior to his coma. Aside from one scene, he's mostly seen in flashback having sessions with the boy. Those sessions reveal the relationship the boy had with his father and the father's issues with Natalie. His presence does matter. His is necessary, and his interactions with the boy are the most interesting and weird parts to this movie, aside from the slimy creature.

Director Alexandre Aja should have ditched the so-called relationship between Allan and Natalie and had the movie only be Michael pulling things out of the boy's head, which would have meant more scenes with the boy's father, Peter Drax, played amazingly by Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad). Watching Peter with the little boy is great and discovering the destruction of Peter and Natalie's marriage is also great.

Those great things are all in flashback. The real thrust of the movie is all the stuff with Allan, which is the least compelling.

Rated R for disturbing images and brief strong language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 48 mins.


Popular Posts