Tree of Life Review Round-Up
One of the year’s most anticipated films, The Tree of Life, has just made its début at Cannes 2011. I’ve decided to include some excerpts from some of my peers to know what to expect come May 27.
Sasha Stone – Awardsdaily
…If it sounds like I’m explaining a religious experience, that’s because the film does sort of play like an artistic revival meeting. It is much closer to a rapture than it is a movie. For an admitted atheist such as myself I had to remove the literal God element and see it more in terms of this force of life that no one has yet been able to explain (and probably no one ever will). But if you’re a religious person, you will probably experience this film on an entirely different level than I did.
…But that’s a small price to pay for the rumination of who and what we are that Malick has worked so hard to bring to us. We don’t get any easy answers, but we get the chance to take a trip down through our collective past, to remember moments where one tiny gesture can affect our behavior for the rest of your lives, and to remember once again that these are days for living. Or what’s a heaven for?
Sasha says there was mixed feelings to the film with equal parts boo’s/cheer’s. The sense of experiencing the movie, as opposed to watching it, is parlayed through her words.
Stephanie Zacharek – Movieline
…I can already hear the chorus of dissenters: But you just don’t understand! Tree of Life a tone poem made by a genius! You need to see it again, or at least think about it a lot more! Admittedly, in this particular case, deadline constraints demanded some pretty rapid processing. But I don’t think I’d find much more beneath the surface of Tree of Life if I thought about it for 12 more hours or 12 more days. Malick is doing what lots of directors do as they get older and ponder larger issues. I’m sympathetic, at least, to his intent. But he’s trying to answer big questions by making the biggest movie possible. Where is God when you need him? The one place he forgets to look is in his characters’ eyes.
Stephanie feels as though she’s seen everything Tree of Life has to offer and she isn’t too impressed. Malick and DP Emmanuel Lubezki show mastery of their craft, but Tree of Life seems more about them the story at had.
Guy Lodge – In Contention
…The Tree of Life, Malick’s long, long delayed fifth feature that is at once his most interior work and his most grandiosely conceived. A fractured, impressionistic memory album documenting the roots of familial estrangement in a middle-class 1950s household in the director’s hometown of Waco, Texas, it arrives on the screen surrounded by bookends within bookends: scenes depicting the present-day social alienation of the family’s grown eldest son (Sean Penn), bracketed by vastly scaled sequences addressing more generalized concerns of theology, evolution and mortality.
…Malick’s slow-burn cinema tends to take several viewings to reveal its full arsenal of tactile pleasures, so I already look forward to a second encounter with his latest. At first blush, however, I’m left stimulated but unmoved, as if having watched the life of someone I hardly know flash before my eyes.
Guy considers giving the movie another viewing because there might be something deeper, but he does alluded to the film being emotionally inept.
It would seem that The Tree of Life won’t make new Terrance Malick fans, but may appease the fans that have waited five long years for his next mark on cinema.