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THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX: 3 STARS. “feels like Guillermo Del Toro Lite.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 7.40.48 AMThere’s accident-prone and then there’s Louis Drax. After surviving eight near-death experiences, the young boy almost meets his end on his ninth birthday when he tumbles off a cliff. What is his secret to survival? More importantly, why do terrible things keep happening to him?

Louis’s (Aiden Longworth) latest accident has left his family in tatters and him in a coma. As psychologist Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan) delves into the strange case, piecing together the disparate aspects and weird coincidences of Louis’s life that brought him to the coma ward, the good doctor also begins a romantic relationship with the boy’s mother Natalie (Sarah Gadon). The details surrounding Louis’s case not only defy medical logic but believability as well. “I think that some people don’t want to wake up until they feel safe,” Pascal says to the comatose boy. Determined to get to the bottom of the medical mystery Pascal and a colleague, Dr. Perez (Oliver Platt), take drastic steps to get inside the boy’s head.

“The 9th Life for Louis Drax” rides the line between reality and fantasy, pitting perception against interpretation. Director Alexandre Aja ambitiously tackles a complicated narrative, switching the point of view between Louis and Pascal perspectives as he balances the story’s three-pronged attack. It’s part psychological drama, part mystery and part police procedural. Add to that a creepy sea monster that visits Louis and you have a film that feels like a novel.

Dornan makes for a good looking, if bland leading man, but Gaddon and Aaron Paul, as Louis’s father, hand in solid, interesting performances. They bring the human touch the story needs to keep the fantasy elements from overpowering the gothic narrative core. The movie flirts with the supernatural but it is more a look at how truth can be interpreted.

“The 9th Life for Louis Drax” is a handsome film that feels like Guillermo Del Toro Lite. Aja’s film isn’t quite as deep or magical as it thinks it is, but it’s a nice, mostly entertaining adaptation of a complex novel.

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