WARNING: This review features potential spoilers, not to mention countless blasphemies against the sacred talents of director Terrence Malick.
NOTES: This film is rated PG-13. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain star. Director Terrence Malick has helmed movies such as Badlands and The Thin Red Line.
On his way back from the IMAX presentation on the birth of the cosmos and the death of the dinosaurs, reclusive director Terrence Malick drove his rickety ’52 Ford truck down a dirt path deep in the heart of Texas and discovered a god-fearing family under the thumb of an angry father. Satisfied with his find, Malick teleported back to present day NYC, a metropolis dressed in vanity as tall as its skyscapers, and observed a brooding man, still clinging to his childhood in Texas, amid all the sin and degradation of the modern age.
Sounds disjointed, right? Doesn’t make sense? Ok, I confess: This is not the genesis of how Malick developed the storyline, if it can be called that, for his fifth full-length feature, “The Tree of Life.” Though if it had been, it would have made more sense than much of what appeared on the screen.
Countless reviewers have cited Malick’s ambition in their reviews of “The Tree of Life,” as if ambition alone is a sweet-smelling aroma capable of seducing moviegoers into buying into surging hype. Sure, few directors would create a film that gazes at the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and attempts to make sense of it. I get that, but attempting such a film and pulling it off are light years apart.