|Directed by:||Terrence Malick|
|Written by:||Terrence Malick|
|Cast:||Brad Pitt, Sean Penn. Jessica Chastain|
|Studio:||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
The Tree of Life is a very good looking film.
Aside from that it's a total trainwreck, a beautiful disaster if you will. As I said the visuals in the movie are stunning for nearly the run time and the visual effects are as well (though the dinosaurs looked a bit Terra Nova-quality), the viewer is almost constantly bombarded with slick, vibrant and unique camera angles and shots and it's really something to see. In fact, as odd as it may sound, this movie would've actually benefited quite a bit from 3D, as it seems as if it was almost shot for it. Really would've been interesting to have seen it that way, though I don't think that could've saved it in the slightest unfortunately.
The story here is mostly absent, as is the script. When they do arrive they are scattered throughout the 2 hour plus runtime which makes the movie seem very tedious and truth be told it is, as the pacing is a huge issue throughout. The direction is solid in the visuals, but as for most everything else Malick really drops the ball not only with the script but with the implementation of it especially in the incredibly dull and totally awkwardly paced narration pieces that seem to go on so long yet so slowly that when the next time comes up the viewer forgets there was even someone talking, nevermind remembers what they were talking about.
What they do talk about though, with what little dialog there is throughout, is really quite meaningless and dives right into that 'always answer a question with a question' mentality... or was it never? Either way Mallick and co. though it was always, and better yet never give an answer, or even hint at one. The portions with the family are a bit better, but still confused, muddled and messy in the overall picture of things. The one boy does a good job acting and Brad Pitt is slightly entertaining playing an asshole, but none of the performances are more than solid and none of the characters are interesting or entertaining. The film just feels like it wanted to be poetic and, ironically, graceful but it never manages to do either and feels like a concept that was so much better on paper on in Malick's mind than it was when it was translated to the screen.
As stated the script is sloppy and very uneven and the story doesn't do anything much at all, though the movie pretends like it just ran a marathon in the last few scenes, as if we just witnessed some amazing character growth and a compelling, emotional, entertaining and involving story for the past two hours or so. The angle most definitely doesn't work, and I was a bit shocked they even tried to make it seem like there was actually something meaty and special we had just witnessed, it all comes off rather pretentious and in short, just not entertaining or even interesting. One thing a movie like this needs to be is thought provoking, however after giving everything in the film an honest and fair chance the only thought I had at the end of the film was 'I can't believe I just wasted 2 plus hours on that', unfortunately.
Overall half of this movie seems like an IMAX documentary on Earth and Space (sans-David Attenborough narration, replaced with mostly mindless, repetitive, borderline annoying jabber spoken in a mumbled monotone throughout) while the other half seems like someone's home movies that, like most home movies, aren't really about much and kinda just keep going and going til there's an end, though I'm not speaking about a conclusion, but rather just the end of the tape. What sets this film apart in that respect though is that it actually believes it's more than that, and wants you to believe the same. Unfortunately for them, and for the viewer, the movie as a whole just ends up being an experiment gone terribly, terribly wrong. Not recommended.