THE 9th LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX Review – A Kids Movie for Adults, or an Adults Movie for Kids?
While The 9th Life of Louis Drax reminds critic Staci Layne Wilson of kids movies of the 80’s, it’s rated R. Hmmm…
Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth) is eight years old, but no one is sure he’ll make it to see another year after he tumbles off a high cliff on his ninth birthday. Broken-boned and in a coma, he’s airlifted to the hospital where he finds himself in the care of acclaimed neurologist Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan). Louis’ mother, Natalie (Sarah Gadon) is beside herself as she worries over her sick son, as well as her mysteriously missing ex-husband, Peter (Aaron Paul). Could Peter have purposely disappeared because he had something to do with Louis’ awful accident?
While the characters ponder those questions and more, we see the story unfold in a series of flashbacks and Rashomon-like reveals. The 9th Life of Louis Drax is based on a best-selling novel by Liz Jensen (and adapted for the screen by Max Minghella). Its dark but not despairing tone is reminiscent of edgier kids’ films of the 1980s – and is right in line with the throwback craze of today (case in point: Netflix’s Stranger Things, which is a TV series steeped in nostalgic love for The Goonies, ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
The director, Alexandre Aja, is best-known for his extremely brutal, blood-soaked horror films (High Tension, and The Hills Have Eyes), so it’s interesting to see what he does with material that’s meant as a kids’ movie adults can enjoy… or is it a grownup movie for kidds? Whatever the case, it’s a balance that’s admirably struck.
The balance between fantasy and reality, however, doesn’t work quite as well. The harder themes are softened by pulled punches, and the little boy’s dreamlike visions of a benevolent spirit helping to guide him through the quagmire between life and death tip the mystery’s hand all too plainly. Excellent acting performances coupled with clunky dialogue and unlikely behavior further confuses the verdict on whether The 9th Life of Louis Drax is a good movie or not. It’s intriguing, but messy.
All in all, I’d say The 9th Life of Louis Drax is entertaining and well-made enough to recommend seeing – it’s definitely in a class of its own and one of the more unique kids’ stories out right now. But, in yet another self-contraction, the movie is Rated R.
1 Hour 48 Minutes
Get times and tickets at Fandango.com.
The 9th Life of Louis Drax Review by Staci Layne Wilson