#REVIEW: “THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
If Louis Drax was a cat, he would have used up his nine lives. A self-described “amazing, accident prone boy” he has survived poisoning, electrocution, and enough broken bones to raise eyebrows at any good Emergency Room. Concerned people finally rally when he ends up in a coma after falling from a cliff on the afternoon of ninth birthday. Trapped in a world just beyond wakefulness, the young narrator draws the audience into The 9th Life of Louis Drax.
Louis’ (Aiden Longworth) calamitous short life has been populated with so many miraculous recoveries that his devoted mother Natalie (Sarah Gadon) is certain he is an angel with whom she has an almost psychic connection. In the wake of his fall, Louis’ father Peter (Aaron Paul) goes missing and immediately comes the prime suspect in what police have termed an attempted murder. The comatose Louis is placed in the care of the brooding Doctor Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan), a specialist in pediatric comas whom the audience is supposed to take seriously because he is first introduced as a Ted Talks speaker. Pascal sees Louis as a puzzle to be solved and his mother as a lost lamb to be saved, though not necessarily in that order.
Alexandre Aja’s (TIFF ’13’s’ Horns) direction could be considered muddled at best. At times he seems to be trying to make a Movie with religious overtones yet despite the weak supernatural elements, it works best when he allows the mystery of Louis’ accidents to move this story rather than his recoveries. Aja’s lack of focus keeps the Movie from rising above mediocrity.
Based on a Book by Liz Jensen, Max Minghella’s script is supported by solid performances from the cast. Molly Parker in particular seems to be channeling every season of Law and Order in her performance as Inspector Dalton. The brief appearance of Barbara Hershey as Louis’ grandmother Violet is worth the price of admission as she is quick to take control of every scene she is in.
The 9th Life of Louis Drax is a pleasant diversion and the eventual denouement, while not surprising, is far from what the biblical metaphors of the First Act would suggest. No newcomer to the scene, Aiden Longworth puts forth a strong performance and is certain to draw in audiences.
eOne Films release The 9th Life of Louis Drax on Friday, September 2, 2016.