The 9th Life of Louis Drax
Based on the book of the same name, this film adaptation of Liz Jensen’s psychological thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax is an on again/off again affair. By all accounts, there is a rich depth of material to be plundered here: explorations of maternal instinct, perceptions of beauty and the frequent misunderstandings of children by well-meaning adults. In practice however, director Alexandre Aja (better known for visceral flicks like The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D) hasn’t managed to get his house in order. Perhaps he is more comfortable with the in-your-face style of his previous movies, as Louis Drax is muddled at times, and meanders at others.
However, despite this loose focus, there is enough insight and mystery to keep audiences engaged. Starting in medias res, we meet Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth), “the amazing accident-prone boy”, as he falls from a cliff and ends up in a deep coma. The rest of the film revolves around this hook, as Doctor Pascal (Jamie Dornan), a conveniently handsome coma specialist, delves into Louis’ lifelong series of mishaps in an attempt to return him to consciousness.
Flashing between the past and present, the cast of Louis Drax do a commendable job in providing the necessary background to Louis’ life of misfortune. We see the protagonist’s difficult family life through scenes where his mother, Natalie (Sarah Gadon), clashes with loving but rough father Peter (Aaron Paul). Similarly, we hear Louis’ opinions during meetings with his child psychologist (Oliver Platt). These scenes steal the show, as Platt’s straight man allows Longworth to showcase the near cliché of a smart but troubled child. Set alongside these flashbacks are scenes set in the present, as Pascal attempts to revive Louis whilst Natalie paints a grim picture of her home life with a supposedly violent husband.
In spite of an interesting story and engaging character beats, the haphazard piecing together of The 9th Life of Louis Drax detracts from an a positive cinematic experience. Similarly, Aja’s choices of framing and lighting are at times jarring, drawing focus when they should serve only to further immerse viewers. Although audiences will want to piece together the reasons for Louis’ misfortune, they’ll have to slog to get there.
The 9th Life Of Louis Drax is released nationwide on 9th September 2016.
Watch the trailer for The 9th Life of Louis Drax here: