"the right mix of perfect comedy timing and the exact amount of suspense, successfully entertains and captures the viewers’ attention"

Inspired by the successful book written by Liz Jensen, The 9th Life of Louis Drax is an unusual thriller that doesn't use pathos to keep the audience glued to the screen, but still manages to surprise and involve them in the story. Using the first person narrative, the movie focuses on nine years old Louis Drax and his strange and surreal inclination towards accidents. In his short life, Louis already has had nine near death experiences, however, he always survives and unexpectedly recovers without any problem.

He has been crushed, poisoned, electrocuted, frozen, broken and drowned, but, for some weird reason, he never dies., while celebrating his birthday with his family on a picnic on a cliff, Louis has his most dangerous and fatal accident yet. After getting too close to the edge, he falls over into the ice cold water below.

Unfortunately, this time it seems that he won't survive the accident. However, after being declared dead before reaching the hospital and being left in the morgue, Louis begins to move again only to fall into a deep coma right after. His case sparks the interest of the famous paediatric neurologist Dr. Pascal (Jamie Dornan), who sets out to observe his peculiar patient and try to discover as much as possible about him and his special condition.

To complicate this already difficult and strange story, during his intense research to understand Louis’ condition, Allan Pascal starts to develop deep feelings for Louis’ ethereal and apprehensive mother, Natalie (Sarah Gadon). She shares these strong feelings almost immediately, even though she is still married to Peter (Aaron Paul), Louis’ adoptive father, who is allegedly involved in his son’s accident and on the run from the police.

When the mystery seems to become even more intricate and Allan becomes more invested in Louis’ life, he discovers a way to communicate with the child, to let him tell his side of the story. As I already mentioned before, The 9th Life of Louis Drax is not a traditional thriller.

Throughout the movie the audience is not strongly gripped by the need to solve the mystery surrounding Louis’ unusual accidents or how he ended up falling from a cliff in the first place. The fact that in a way Louis still communicates with the audience makes it less urgent to wanting to solve the crime. This doesn’t mean that pathos is completely nonexistent in the movie. On the contrary, the desire to know more shifts from Louis’ strange life to Natalie’s behaviour and role in the story.

Sarah Gadon is the perfect actress to portray this elusive and apparently innocent character; Natalie enchants everyone with her beauty. She seems innocent and fragile and Gadon embodies all these traits effortlessly with her ethereal beauty and talent. Her Natalie seems detached from reality while still being present in every scene. Her evolution is not obvious and this is why throughout the movie, it becomes more and more interesting to analyse her and discover her puzzling and hidden past.

Her performance is excellent thanks to the support of the rest of the cast. In fact, even though Natalie and Allan’s relationship seems a bit rushed and out of place in the plot, Gadon and Dornan work together beautifully. The Irish actor shows that he is not just a pretty face in bringing to life Allan Pascal, he was capable of showcasing once again his talent in understanding his character.

Among the cast, however Aiden Longworth and Aaron Paul are the ones who really make a difference in the movie; in fact, even though he is not as physically present on the screen as much as the other actors, Paul is outstanding as Louis’ adoptive father Peter. His character’s past is outlined through Louis’ memories and even if we see them together just a handful of times on screen, it’s clear how strong and deep his relationship with his son is.

On his part, Longworth brings to the screen the perfect Louis Drax; his character is opinionated, bright and curious. Even the sound of his voice is enough to convey all the emotions that he is feeling while his body is motionless on the bed. His performance his brilliant and in some parts even funny, making the tone of the movie lighter, especially after some dark and heavy scenes.

This contrast between suspense and comic relief is also highlighted by the soundtrack. Most of the time the contrast between what is happening in the story and the music that accompanies those specific scenes is so strong that it becomes almost comical. However, this juxtaposition is completely in line with the movie’s intention to show that nothing is really what it seems and sometimes the truth is hidden in plain site.

All in all, even though, as a thriller, The 9th Life of Louis Drax doesn’t keep the audience on the edge of their seat, it is a film that, with the right mix of perfect comedy timing and the exact amount of suspense, successfully entertains and captures the viewers’ attention.