Victoria Jelinek


The Tree of Life
June 17, 2011, 10:21 am
Filed under: Published film reviews | Tags: , , , ,

This is a film about three boys growing up in the 1950’s with their mother, a free spirit, and their father, a ‘hard ass’ who is alternately affectionate (played by Brad Pitt). The story considers the origins and meaning of life, and death, in general and as it pertains to the boys’ lives and experiences.

The film premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it won a Palme d’Or, and was met with rave reviews from critics but was actually booed at the screening (a tough reaction particularly as the filmmakers and actors are present). Depending on who you speak to, the sci-fi meets surrealist themes and imagery were seen as either imaginative and independently minded, or pretentious and boring. This reviewer finds that the fragmented and non-linear narrative actually is how memories are remembered, and as it’s a story told in the present about the past, this seems appropriate and interesting.  That said, there is an argument for its being indulgent and meandering. However, in a world of films that appeal to the lowest common denominator and rely on frenetic images and action, this nicely paced, philosophically-light film is refreshing.

Malick has taken his time with his films, working on this one for decades and ‘only’ having made seven films in a 35-year career, but his films Badlands and Days of Heaven are two of the most beautifully filmed movies of all time and this one is gorgeous, too. Lightly existential, this is a great film to watch when you’re in the mood to consider your life, your family, and the world you live in without delving too deeply into any of it.

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