Aaron Paul

'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' doesn't survive the free-fall of obviousness

'The 9th Life of Louis Drax' doesn't survive the free-fall of obviousness

Nine-year-old Louis Drax’s (Aiden Longworth) brief existence so far has been marked by near-death mishaps — from salmonella and botulism to electrocution and broken bones — yet he cheerfully calls himself “accident-prone.” He narrates an introduction as we see him plummeting from a seaside cliff in the jarring opening moments of “The 9th Life of Louis Drax.” As for this clumsy movie’s own missteps, one of them is a free-fall of knowing exactly where its ham-fisted, head-scratching mix of fantasy, potboiler and family drama is headed.

All those elements may have combined to fine literary effect in Liz Jensen’s 2004 novel, which takes readers inside poor Louis’...

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