The Tree of Life Film Review (2011)

So I just finished watching Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life…

This film loosely follows the life a man remembering his childhood in the 1950s in the southern United States. It recounts when he was born, his tumultuous relationship with his father, and his brother’s death fighting for the military.

What a movie. An abstract masterpiece about the nature of life and the importance of it all.

Brilliant script, great characters and performances (Brad Pitt gave an incredibly classy and powerful performance as the hard edged father, and Hunter McCracken was fantastic as the young Jack), mind blowing cinematography and editing, beautiful visual effects, incredibly rich philosophy, etc.

This was my first Malick film and I am already a fan. His visual style and his way of telling stories is so unique and distinctive. The fluid camera work where that seemed so loose but deliberate (the jarring camera movements during one of the scenes where Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain were fighting was unlike anything I’ve seen), the amazing space and nature imagery which help accentuate the themes associated with the narrative, the sparse but rich dialogue which compliments the visuals, the beautiful soundtrack of classical music…all of it is so brilliant.

It reminds me of some of the other thought provoking movies that I love that are more on the abstract side. Space Odyssey, The Holy Mountain, Pink Floyd’s The Wall…It doesn’t reveal its hand to you easily. It lingers with you and it makes you work for what it is saying. A purely visual feast, and the dialogue and writing complimenting the visuals instead of overpowering them.

Overall, this is a sublime and magnificent work. It revels in the majesty of the universe, and of life itself, and despite our minute part in it all, it makes us realize that all of it is important. May not be for you, but this is a must see for movie fans. Watch it.

10 out of 10

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