Alexandre Aja’s The 9th Life of Louis Drax is one of the best movies of 2016 & an instant kids movie classic. Adapted by Max Minghella from a YA novel by Liz Jensen, the story centers on an accident prone boy who, at the beginning of the movie, falls off a cliff & lands in a coma. His estranged father (Aaron Paul) goes missing, his doctor (Jamie Dornan) starts getting strange notes, and his mother (Sarah Gadon, oddly styled with a flip) is overwrought. In a nod to Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth, the comatose experience is a blend of fantasy & reality. Unlike that movie, & Aja’s horror films, The 9th Life of Louis Drax—though strangely rated-R—is not violent or gross. But there is an unsettling undercurrent & a perverse twist that oddly enough makes the movie’s sentimentality deeply felt. And especially remarkable is the boy (Aiden Longworth), who, instead of being the clichéd wallflower we’ve come to expect in this genre, is irreverent & smart.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White