Movie Review: Alexandre Aja's THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX

It’s very rare for me to cry during a movie, and typically when I do, it’s because something has deeply affected me in a way that the majority of other films can’t. When I first heard of THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX I knew little about it except that it was directed by iconic horror director Alexandre Aja (HORNS, HIGH TENSION).  However, this film is unlike any of his other previous works as it’s not in the realm of horror but more in the vein of a mystery/thriller.  THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAKE is based on the book of the same title by Liz Jensen and stars Jamie Dornan (FIFTY SHADES OF GREY), Aiden Longworth (THE UNSEEN), Sarah Gadon (DRACULA UNTOLD) and Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”).  The story centers around Louis Drax (Aiden Longworth), a young boy who has fallen into a coma after a near-fatal accident.  With the help of his psychologist (Oliver Platt) and Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan), Louis Drax story begins to come to life and everything that everyone is told to believe is now put to the test as fantasy blends with reality and nothing is as it once seems. 

First and foremost, I love when a director who is known for doing one genre in particular, decides to branch out and try something different.  Sure this film could have some parallels that one would consider to be horror-esque but for the most part, it’s a complete departure from the work that Alexandre Aja is used to doing.  That being said, I think his latest film is a testament to the range of work that Aja is capable of doing.  This movie was raw and heartbreaking and there were many times when I found myself completely engulfed in the story.  When it comes to acting, everyone was on top of their game.  I was little hesitant to see Jamie Dornan in the role, mainly because of my disdain for FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, but he ended up being the perfect casting choice for Dr. Allan Pascal.  Aaron Paul plays the father of Louis Drax, Peter, and is the main suspect in Louis’ unfortunate accident.  As a die-hard fan of “Breaking Bad”, I also have a major crush on Aaron Paul, so I was beyond excited to see him in this movie.  His character in this film holds a bit of mystery so I want to make sure I don’t give anything away, but as the credits rolled, I found myself sitting in a puddle of tears from his tragic, yet touching, story.  Sarah Gadon, who plays the mother of Louis Drax, Natalie, was a showstopper.  Her story and her love for Louis is so apparent from the moment the film starts, but it’s hard not to notice that something is off about her.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I found myself wondering who is this woman on the screen and is she as she appears? As for Louis Drax himself, he was played by Aiden Longworth, and for my first time seeing him on screen, he absolutely captured my attention.  Aiden has an incredible talent and it was obvious from this film that he has a hell of a career ahead of him.  

As for the visuals, there is nothing but good that can be said of them.  It had an almost ethereal feel to it, along with what I can only describe as a blurry touch around the edges, which made the movie come across as magical and whimsical.  Though the film made sure not to cross the threshold into the horror territory, we were presented with a unique creature, who at first could be considered dangerous and horrifying, but upon reveal had a much more sympathetic demeanor. I really liked how Aja implemented this creature into the film, as for me it symbolized the heartache and sadness that Louis Drax was eventually going to have to face. As for the overall story, I felt it was really strong and came full circle at the end.  There were many times where it could have walked that fine line of being to fantastical but each time it got close to that, Aja made sure to pull the reins in and set the course back on the path. Overall, THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX is a beautiful film that tugs on the heartstrings and makes us second guess what we think to know as truth.  I’m really hoping that this film doesn’t fly underneath the radar because it’s a film unlike anything else out there today and I urge you, if you get the chance to see the film in theaters or on video, make sure you do so. 

Devastatingly Yours,
Shannon M.