The Tree of Life is one of my favorite films of the year. There is no questioning it. While the film may not be for everyone, anyone can appreciate the imagery. Truly a cinematic masterpiece, The Tree of Life is a piece of art, unparalleled. The last time we saw ambition such as this was in the sixties and seventies. Filmmaking is an art and every once in a while the industry forgets that, this is the film is the reminder. It belongs in the same cannon as 2001, Enter the Void, Fanny & Alexander, and Fountain. While all of these films are a bit difficult to digest, they are worth the effort.
This is really begging the question is this film good? The Tree of Life really sits in the eye of the beholder. It depends on what you want to get out of the film. This one really depends on all of you. Watch this without expectations…because if you have any they will be completely ruined.
The Tree of Life is officially about (well to my understanding) middle age Jack (Penn) looking for clarity and some kind of understanding of things beyond him. He reflects upon the creation of life, earth and the cosmos. Then reflects upon his relationship with his family. Mainly the relationships with his father (Pitt) mother (Chastain) and younger brother. The majority of the film is told in flashback with a serious focus on his troubling transition to adolescents.
To really understand this film the view needs to read a biography on Terrence Malick. This film opens after a funeral with the neighborhood consoling the Mother and Father after their son’s death (it can be assumed that this was a result of the Vietnam War). If you noticed like I did the older brother is not around. In Terrence’s real life his brother committed suicide in 1969. Terrence had always felt responsible for this. This is a film about guilt and coming to terms with death. You can draw any conclusion here that you want.
This film is not only amazing because of its imagery and cinematography but the acting is fantastic. Pitt as always turns in a great performance. “Z” said that he was just like her father and I feel that many others will have the same feelings. He plays the strict parent well but still loving it. This was a very down to earth performance. Chastain was also great, and she just keeps blossoming as a young actress. In every new performance I find that I like her more. Penn doesn’t have much to go on here and his performance really suffers. The real performance here is Hunter McCracken as young Jack. His emotions are sometimes disturbing (as my mother said but the feel that it was accurately depicting the pains of innocence lost). McCracken’s face is full of expression and conveys so much – he’s really perfected the act of stillness.
No everything about this film was perfect. There were times when Malick got the best of himself and took the film’s imagery too far. It really is an easy film to understand and some scenes were extremely heavy-handed. There were scenes that went as far as being pretentious and insulting to the viewer. Most of the film’s dialogue is wispered, which can be a problem when screening at home (even at a high volume). Turn on the subtitles so that you don’t miss much of the important dialogue, and it will be fine.
The Tree of Life was truly one of the most beautiful films visually I have ever seen. The cinematography and editing here were clicking on all cylinders. The acting was also spectacular (except for Penn’s lifeless performance). The heavy-handed sequences and dialogue really did not bring the rest of the film down, but its imagery alone make it a Blu-Ray must have.
Enter to win a Canon EOS Rebel camera from The Tree of Life. Rules can be found on HitFix.
The Tree of Life is available for pre-order from Amazon.com
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Overall: 4 cosmos out of 5
Review by Bro’ “B” – Ben
We received product for our toy review. All opinions are our own.