The Tree of Life

"Extraordinary"

The Tree of Life Review


Malick takes a bold, intensely personal approach to this big story about life, the universe and everything. With echoes of Kubrick and Lynch, but in true Malick style, it's the kind of film we need to let wash over us rather than try to make sense of.

Jack O'Brien (McCracken, then Penn) grows up in the 1950s American Midwest with his harsh-but-caring dad (Pitt), loving mother (Chastain) and little brothers RL and Steve (Eppler and Sheridan). Over the years, events shift and shape the family, including illness, injury and death. But what does it all mean? And can the truths of humanity be traced back to the dawn of evolution or the age of the dinosaurs?

A kaleidoscopic style tells the O'Brien's story out of sequence, interspersed with the cosmos, primordial sea and, yes, dinosaurs. The photography and editing are smooth and lyrical, as scenes flow naturally into each other even though we're not sure why they're juxtaposed in quite this way. And along the way there are a few odd moments thrown in that leave us guessing, such as moments in an attic with a very tall man and a little boy, or a brief glimpse of a house fire followed by a scarred child.

But there's no need to fit the pieces together. The resonant central plot line plays out mainly without dialog, as gorgeous montage sequences depict key life moments, and the actors give extremely reflective performances. Malick's chief interest seems to be on the point where emotional and instinctual responses merge, so there are a lot of facial close-ups and moody monologs to go along with his usual images of trees waving in the sunshine and water rippling in the breeze.

In other words, the film is achingly beautiful, more like an essay about existence than a narrative drama. At several points voiceovers question God, echoing the opening quote from the Book of Job: "Where are you?" "Who are we to you?" And along with the internal yearning (such as Mr O'Brien's regret about not becoming a professional musician) there are explorations of compassion, responsibility and loyalty, all with an underlying sense of both menace and security. It's such an unusual, personal film that it really shouldn't be missed. Even if we're not quite sure what it means, we feel it.



The Tree of Life

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 139 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 17th May 2011

Box Office USA: $13.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $54.7M

Budget: $32M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight

Production compaines: Fox Searchlight

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 212 Rotten: 41

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Dede Gardner, , ,

Starring: as Mr. O'Brien, as Jack, as Mrs. O'Brien, as Grandmother, as Steve, as Jack's Wife


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

45 Years Movie Review

45 Years Movie Review

Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...

Sinister 2 Movie Review

Sinister 2 Movie Review

As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...

Advertisement
Paper Towns Movie Review

Paper Towns Movie Review

After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...

Vacation Movie Review

Vacation Movie Review

Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...

Trainwreck Movie Review

Trainwreck Movie Review

Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...

Advertisement