Based on Liz Jenson’s 2004 novel of the same title, ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ is Alexandre Aja’s newest thriller with a supernatural edge. Nine year old boy Louis Drax (Aiden Longsworth) is an accident-prone child – each yeah he’s come ever closer to death with a series of unfortunate incidents. On his ninth birthday his parents, Natalie (Sarah Gadon) and Peter (Aaron Paul) take him to Land’s End for a family picnic, but sadly it all ends in trauma as Louis accidentally falls off the cliff edge, and Peter is suddenly nowhere to be seen.
Louis dies, yet two hours after his time of death the doctors are amazed when he comes back to life, albeit in a coma. Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan), fascinated by sleep and comatose states from his previous experiences, decides to investigate what happened, and it all starts to get a bit sinister when things are revealed as different to what they seem.
I haven’t read the book that the film is based on so I can’t comment on the original story, but I got the feeling whilst watching that it really should have been left as a book. It just didn’t feel quite right – I couldn’t work out whether the film was trying to be morbid or cute (though it succeeded at both multiple times). The supernatural element was quite strange as well, with serious scenes mixed in such as bizarre conversations with a deep-voiced sea dweller. I enjoyed the realistic moments more, but felt that the two combined together just didn’t work like it should have.
What really did work was the emotiveness of the whole story – from the very start it was hard not to get drawn into the emotions of the characters, from the trauma of the initial incident to the sadness and disturbed mind of Louis as we find out more about his life from flashbacks leading up to the cliff fall. Longsworth was very good as Louis, emphasising both his cuteness and his morbid intelligence. In fact, all of the acting was well-done, and helped to keep the story engaging when it all got a bit too weird.
I think if more of the focus had been on Louis and his past then it would have been better, as sometimes it just seemed a little off. Midway through the story it seems to switch more to the frankly embarrassing relationship development between Natalie and Dr. Pascal – crucial to the story, but a little painful to watch at points. There was definitely enough of the unsettling (one scene that comes to mind involved Louis submitting his long-living hamster to a grisly end), but I wanted more of the background scenes; the conversations between Louis and his psychiatrist (Oliver Platt) were some of the most interesting to watch.
The film reminded me of a lot of different films, from ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ to ‘Donnie Darko’ and even the TV series ‘Fringe’ towards the end. It’s surreal from the start, and stretches reality as things get more and more absurd. Although the finer details of the twist were surprising, unfortunately the story as a whole was quite predictable, which sadly took away from the overall plot. Good if you like a bit of a fantasy slant with your thrillers, but not done as well as it could have been.
The 9th Life Of Louis Drax at CeX
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