Jul 7, 2011

The Tree Of Life

The Tree Of Life is not a film. At least as we know it. It is an experience. A revelation. A cosmic delivery. A hurricane of fresh air in the bloated and tired 21st century. Leave your perceptions at the theatre door and be prepared for the ride of your life. Terrence Malick is the most singular of film makers. He is stunningly ambitious in his efforts to create a vision that is both sublime and moving. He doesn't make many films, but when he does they are well worth the wait.

This wondrous film is set in 1950s Texas, for the most part, and concerns the O'Brien family. The father (Brad Pitt) is stern and authoritarian. The mother (Jessica Chastain) is loving and almost childlike. They have 3 boys, Jack, R.L. and Steve. We see the boys grow from infants to thriving young boys, experiencing the wonder and despair of growing up. Later we flash forward to Jack as a man (Sean Penn), who seemingly lives and works in gleaming towers devoid of soul and hope. The film, in its infancy, also includes a breath taking sequence that attempts to display the creation of life on earth. From micro organisms to dinosaurs! This was brave and could have failed, but it doesn't. Instead it lends weight to the purpose of the film. That is, that we live in a unique and awe inspiring world that is confusing and bewildering from the smallest detail to the largest concept. This film has ambition like few others, if any. It is a meditation, a treatise, almost a sermon on life. It is concerned with the minutia of life and also the enormous complexity. There is barely any plot, let alone narrative. These are trivial matters in the hands of Malick. He wants us to feel. To see. I doubt he wants us to understand. I don't really. But the images, the feelings, the gravity. It is sublime, almost perfect. It is certainly the most beautiful film that I have ever seen. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki captures natural light with inspiring grace. Millions of images tumble into each other, barely living before expiring. They hold our gaze, before we devour the next. The Tree Of Life is also as good a film that I ever seen that captures burgeoning adolescence. It captures the wonder, the exploration, the hurt, the deliberate destruction. We see the man before us, before he grows old and cynical. The Tree Of Life moves slowly, maybe too slowly for some. But it is richly rewarding. It is a kaleidoscope of unparalleled beauty. It is greatness untouched.


  • At July 08, 2011 , Anonymous Mla said...

    I almost always agree with everything you write, hear and see, but I found this film actually unbearable. Visually stunning, but the genre of feature film demands more than that. Plot, for example! Plot is very good at helping us feel.


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