Tree of Life

The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.

After many weeks of desire and interest in seeing this movie, I was finally able to go into the city and find a theater that was playing it, for this movie was given a very small and specific realease. After watching every trailer and every review, I was convinced that this movie would be an instant favorite of mine. Little did I know, despite my taking in of trailers and other people’s words, I was not prepared for what lie ahead.

*Note: I did arrive 20 minutes late of the start of the show, so pending possible trailers shown before the movie, I may have missed some of the beggining.

The instant I layed my eyes on the screen, I knew that this movie was going to be different. I’m not even sure if I should call it a movie. Most movies have scenes, and conversations between characters. This movie really didn’t have either of those. Writer/Director Terrence Malick‘s creative style is overwhelming in this movie. Fast cuts and moving cameras litter the screen the entire movie. Disembodied voices giving bold declarations and asking powerful questions, while always doing so in a curious whisper.

The shots that were taken and the spacial events that were generated via CG were beyond words. Beautiful, glorious, intimidating, perfect; these words are ones that I would start to describe the visuals in this movie with, but they seem to fall short of what I was actually seeing. From distant galxies and nebulas, to volcanic erupitions, to dinosaurs, to unique and rare present-day creatures, to vast landscapes, to microscopic views of cells, and eventually to this family of 5 in Texas, this movie covers the expanse of time and life itself. The soundtrack as well is huge, and brilliantly connects with what you are seeing on screeen. This movie is beyond scope, beyond a single idea or theory. This movie tries to say a lot, and it wil be either hit or miss if you can agree with its expansive thoughts.

Despite the actual telling of a story being strange and non-linear, the actors playing these deeply complex characters go a magnificent job. Sean Penn is not much in this film at all, but does what he needs to as the young child grown up. Brad Pittis the former military hard-ass father, and Jessica Chastain, who I thought stole the show, as just the opposite, a kind and caring mother. These characters are not as simple as I just stated, however. Each of them struggle with their own problems and emotions, and the portrayal of that is great.

This is not a hollywood film, this isn’t a blockbuster movie, this, I daresay, is a work of art. It’s messages and meanings are not defined or said out loud. Speculation is necessary, and I feel that each viewer can, and probably does, go home with something different at the end. But, being a work of art, the film is subjective, and I can tell you right now that it will not be for everyone. It could be considered slow-aced, too drawn-out, and maybe even pointless. It speaks for itself when I tell you that the directors cut, from Malick himself, is six hours long. But I can assure you that I want to, and will, see that edition, for the 140 minute version that I saw was incredibly intruiging and through-provoking.

I can not compare this movie to anything else that I have ever seen, and therefore, my rating will probably be hard to agree with, but more-so for this movie than anything else I have ever reviewed or recommended, I implore you to “try it before you knock it”.

If I were, however, were to describe it using other films, I would combine Planet Earth, The Universe, and then a story about a family in Texas, and that is The Tree of Life.

My Rating

 – 4.0/4.0 The sheer scope of idea of this movie is incredibly bold, and may not be for everyone, but the cinematic beauty of the filming of this movie demands at least one viewing, and if you can cope or agree with its purpose, this movie could change your life.


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