Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Sarah Gadon, Aiden Longworth
Release Date: February 7, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
After surviving eight near-death accidents throughout his unlucky life, Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth) plunges off a steep cliff on his ninth birthday. While police investigate the cause of Louis’s near-fatal fall and the whereabouts of his violent father, Peter (Aaron Paul), acclaimed neurologist Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan) uses unorthodox techniques to try to tap into the boy’s unconscious mind and reveal the truth about the events that led to his condition. But as he’s drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of Louis’s seeming ability to cheat death, the doctor finds himself falling for Louis’s mother, Natalie (Sarah Gadon). As new clues emerge in the case, a shocking revelation changes the fates of Louis Drax and everyone around him.
Based on the novel of the same name, ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ introduces us to the accident prone young boy Louis Drax (Longworth). Having spent the entirety of his life as a boy who seems to be plagued by one accident after another only to mysteriously survive each time, when a picnic with his mother (Gadon) and father (Paul) ends with Louis falling off an enormous cliff and landing in ice cold water only to miraculously revive in the morgue and subsequently land in a state of concussion sometime later, it seems almost expected. As a talented doctor (Dornan) specializing in child concussions struggles to find the answer and understand the mysterious boy, Louis meanwhile finds himself engulfed in his own interior quest to uncover the truth of his odd existence with the assistance of a mysterious companion. But when implications of attempted murder begin to arise claiming Louis was apparently pushed from the cliff, the doctor and boy attempt to utilize a mysteriously shared connection in order to piece together the mystery from opposite ends of consciousness.
Directed by Alexandre Aja (Horns, Piranha 3D) from a script penned by actor Max Minghella (Horns) which was based upon the novel by Liz Jensen respectively (also marking Minghella’s screenwriting debut), Aja does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ guiding the tale along with a passionate beauty and care that consistently shines throughout. It also owes a share of the credit to the cast which is largely comprised of some talented folks and includes Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey, TV’s The Fall), Sarah Gadon (Enemy, TV’s 11.22.63), Aaron Paul (Triple 9, TV’s Breaking Bad), Oliver Platt (Lake Placid, TV’s Chicago Med), Aiden Longworth (Cut Bank, Hector and the Search for Happiness), Barbara Hershey (Insidious, Falling Down) and more, the majority delivering quite capable performances in each of their respective roles.
‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ is a beautiful, emotional and fantasy-like dark mystery that introduces viewers to a unique child and following the aftermath of a tragic accident steps into another realm where we join the boy and his mysterious guide in disassembling his unexplainable luck and affliction for danger in the hope of uncovering the truth behind his existence. Equal parts drama, mystery and fantasy, as well as a powerful exploration of both the positive and negative aspects of a troubled family, the film embarks on its own peculiar course that is quite unlike the norm and as the unexplained wonder begins to form its pieces together, the overall experience is a unique, gorgeous and emotionally riveting tale that nary falters along its course, eventually unraveling into a surprisingly powerful conclusion that fits brilliantly. Passionately guided by director Alexandre Aja who has evolved a great deal since his earlier horror entries (not that I wasn’t also a huge fan of his horror efforts as well) and his talent shines notably bright with this movie which just may be his most impressive work to date; complimented all the more by a cast including a collection of talented individuals such as Aaron Paul, Jamie Dornan and Sarah Gadon. ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ is a fantastic, heartwarming and beautifully constructed film that I would strongly urge both fans of similarly extraordinary tales and fellow fans of Aja’s work to make a point of giving this one a whirl when you have the chance to do so, it’s a remarkable film that is well worth the time.
Overall, ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ is a unique and fantastic film that offers a gorgeous and thought provoking mystery brimming with wonder and an unexpected beauty frequently lingering at the surfaces of even many of the bleaker moments. Based on the novel by Liz Jensen, beautifully guided along its course by talented director Alexandre Aja and further boosted by a cast including a number of talented folks, ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ definitely earns one of my highest recommendations. Any fellow fans of Aja’s work along with anyone who appreciates a powerful and somewhat magical story that isn’t quite what you’d expect will not want to miss out on this marvelous film. It should be well worth the cost of a rental at the very least for those who might be understandably hesitant dropping the funds on a blind purchase of the Blu-ray release.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and delivers a sharp, detailed and beautiful presentation from start to finish, with no noticeable faults to be found within. It holds up impressively even during the darkly lit, fast moving and/or heavily populated sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation that should have no problem whatsoever pleasing the masses.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a perfect complement to the fantasy-like film and maintains a consistently crisp, clean and fairly aggressive audio presentation throughout. It regularly utilizes all five available channels in order to immerse the viewer within the score, while also sending a number of additional auditory effects such as crowd chatter, water and more throughout the various speakers when fitting, and never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a splendid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ includes one brief extra: a behind the scenes Featurette ‘The Making of The 9th Life of Louis Drax’ (running approximately 3 minutes in length) which includes some interviews/comments with the cast and crew.