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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Tree of Life a Terrence Malick Film - Reviewed

In the opening scenes of "The Tree of Life" I immediately thought of the movie the "The Thin Red Line"  Both films are so lyrical with dream-like, artistic scenes that risk losing a more mainstream audience at every turn.

The resemblance between "The Tree of Life" and "The Thin Red Line" is not a coincidence.  Terrence Malick is credited with writing the screenplay and directing both films.

When I finished watching "The Tree of Life" I knew it was an excellent move but I struggled to explain why. For a minute I thought I would be at a loss for an explanation just like when I reviewed "Synecdouche, NY"   I think I figured out Malick's film though and will give it a shot.

The story of this film does not follow a straight path at all.  The film follows the family through what is likely 1950's and 1060's and jumps to the 2000's from time to time. We know the family loses a son in what I can only presume is the Vietnam War but the film does not confirm this. The plot and scenery is very ethereal. It does not follow a linear path.

In between more conventional scenes that take place around home and work, the film fill the spaces with images that remind me of "2001 Space Odyssey" There are scenes of prehistoric creatures and brightly colored scenes from outer space.   These effects should come as no surprise to those of you who have heard of Douglas Trumbull.   Douglas Trumbull oversaw the effects production in both 2001 Space Odyssey and The Tree of life .

Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Hunter McCracken are terrific in roles with relatively few scenes and lines compared to more traditional films.  Pitt plays a father who enforces strict discipline and McCracken the forgiving mother.  Hunter McCracken plays the son that serves as the lightning rod of both his mother's forgiving and father's punishments.

Sean Penn is good but his part does not demand an actor of great talent. He has few words to say, requires only one emotion, which is to say pensive bordering on depression. His part requires no engaging with other actors.

I think anyone who watches this film will compare their own childhood to the children in the film. Observations of the grown up world and our interactions with our parents no doubt shape the lens through which we view our childhood. Terrence Malick is very in touch with this idea. Many scenes somehow draws you into the child's perspective without explicitly putting the audience into the children's point of view.

I've said this about other films and I'll say it again about this one, The Tree of Life is more of a journey than a destination. There is no great climax, ticking time bomb, or problem to solve.  It is about a family bearing their own burdens and navigating life as well as they know how.  Along the way there are bold, artistic special effects that border between philosophical and psychedelic.

This film is not for everyone.  It stands on its own in a brave way. I thought it was wonderful and affecting.

Check it out..... if you dare.

Rated PG 13

2 Hours, 19 Minutes


More Movie Reviews By TurtleDog

Subtle, Sleepy Thriller - Short Film, Just 51 Minutes - Will You Like This Flick?

The United States Football League - Did Don Trump Ruin it All?

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