Went to the movies a few days ago with a good friend and saw “The Tree of Life” starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, among others. Written and directed by Terrence Malick, who’s mostly known for “The Thin Red Line” and the masterpiece “Badlands”. I didn’t know much about the movie other than it was supposed to be an artsy piece of biblical impressionist story centering around the loss of innocence and humans’ complicated relationships with God and their own existence. I enjoyed it for the most part, but felt that some scenes were a bit too excessive. It’s like Malick tries too much and can’t fit all his ambitions into the medium that is film. It’s as if he needs to extend the frames beyond the laws of physics – in other words; it’s a project that’s nearly impossible to capture through a lens. But by all means, this is art. Nobody can film blowing leaves, rays of light and trees like Malick. It’s visually stunning and you can literally feel the wind on your face sitting there in the theatre. Chastain’s performance was outstanding, and Pitt tries. He really does, but it looks as if he was pouting throughout most of the movie, and honestly, Sean Penn’s role was not really necessary. We see him briefly as one of the boys as an adult – confused, angry, sad, pondering. It was a little out of context the way I interpreted it, but of course, others may see it differently.
The story focuses on a family in the 50s. Religious and obedient wife, stern and abusing father. Three young boys. Around this we have the creation and the destruction of the universe, the story of Job, ambiguous relationships with God, life and death, flowing particles, fire and ice, heaven and hell. Phew! I’m tempted to describe it as a metaphysical cosmic orgasm, and without doubt a great piece of cinematic art.
Don’t expect your usual popcorn flick. But if you are in the philosophical mood and want to lend a few hours to challenge your view of the very core of human emotion and existence, go see it. You might be blown away. If not by the special effects, then at least by the massive “Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Arie Suite III” by Ottorino Respighi. Phew!