Review: The Tree of Life
What We ThoughtGenre: Drama
What We Liked :Beautiful Cinematography, Solid Acting
What We Disliked:Plot goes no where, disjointed
There’s no doubt in the scale Terrance Malick made for Tree of Life. As a filmmaker he has proven to be a master of his craft. It’s just unfortunate that the story he is trying to tell comes through disjointed in the end.
Ambitious, beautiful, and disjointed.
Tree of Life manages to be all this and much more. The eagerly awaited new film from Terrance Malick (Thin Red Line, The New World) is finally here. Malick is trying to say a lot with this picture and as an artistic vision mostly succeeds. Sadly, as viewed purely on an entertainment scale it doesn’t exactly measure up.
Tree of Life is presented in three parts. The first part sets up the question of creation and why God works the way he does. Then the picture delves into creation itself. Hopefully this provides a small glimpse into evolution. During the second act, we follow the life of small family when times were much simpler. Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien have their small family of three boys. The story is mostly focused on Jack’s growth and tough parenting from his father. Finally the third act deals with redemption and forgiveness.
At times the film seems to be running slow. Malick isn’t content on letting shots linger and there’s a countless number of cuts to images that show little details. The funniest thing about Tree of Life is what should be left on the cutting room floor. Every shot seems essential in some undisputable way. The cinematography is draw dropping. This is easily Emmanuel Lubezki‘s greatest work in his fine portfolio.
Surprisingly, Malick does use CGI in this picture. It is just very restrained and seems to flow into the frame in such a way as to not be distracting. The artistry on display throughout Tree of Life is second to none. Malick knows exactly where he wants to take his audience and has seemingly calculated every shot.
The biggest problem is the story within. The growth of young Jack and the control his father has over him. Jack is raised a very strict way and begins to rebel at every opportunity against his parents. He is bitter and relentless in his hatred for his father. Mr. O’Brien (Brad Pitt) only wants what’s best for his son and he doesn’t know how to be a father any other way. It’s a story we’ve seen countless times before. It has never been presented in this way, but it felt tired compared to the grand scale Malick was trying to reach.
At the end of it’s run time, Tree of Life isn’t content on answering any questions raised, it only creates more. There are countless shots the film could’ve ended on. A more traditional ending would’ve been achieved if it wasn’t for the last act. Jack (Sean Penn) as an adult is looking for redemption and forgiveness and I believe he has been granted it. There’s no doubt in the scale Terrance Malick made for Tree of Life. As a filmmaker he has proven to be a master of his craft. It’s just unfortunate that the story he is trying to tell comes through disjointed in the end.
REPOSTED DUE TO DVD/BD RELEASE.
Tree of Life
Directed by Terrance Malick
Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain