The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is one of those movies that makes all the sense in the world (literally) while you’re watching it, and much less sense when you try and contemplate it’s meaning afterwards. That in mind, I will try to write about it intelligently as I can. First off, if you are the kind of person you really likes a movie with a good, strong plot, you won’t find one in Tree of Life. You’re probably better off going to see Bad Teacher, or heck, maybe even Transformers 3. But I don’t blame it for having a weak plot because the movie itself examines the birth of life in our universe (aka as we know it), and the tragic the loss of it, and the big questions most of us will ask at some point in our lives: is there a God, if so, where is he and why does he punish the seemingly good (me), why I am here on this Earth, where do we go after we leave it, and what does it mean to be truly alive. All of this is played to the backdrop of a 1950s Texas family who is struck by the tragedy of a death in the family. Let’s see some else address those questions in a little over 2 hours as beautifully as Terrence Malick and his cinematographer, Emanuel Lubezki did. Each shot was the most beautiful photograph I could imagine. I enjoyed the film thoroughly until I got tired, when my buzz faded. But even on the come down, my mouth dropped at scenes like the one involving dinosaurs, a predator and a prey (I was like, did that really just happen?). For some of it I felt like I was watching Plant Earth through a more artistic lens. The abstract scenes of the cosmos are breathtaking and they consumed me as I became a part of them.
If we talk about the actual actors and acting in the film for a second, I can tell the star is for sure not Brad Pitt, or Sean Penn for that matter. It’s the kids. Oh my god, those kids were spectacular. I was actually surprised kids that young could act that well, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t seen good child actors on the big screen in a while. But those three brothers had it down, the flickering of the eyes, a shift in a look, it felt real. Their mother, played by Jessica Chastain (who’ve I’ve never heard of before this) was great too, even without much dialogue. She played the a perfect 50s housewife, acting in the authoritarian shadow of her husband, Brad Pitt.
The movie actually reminded me of Enter the Void, which I know I mention a lot, but you’re just going to have to deal with it. ETV is a movie about death and existence after it (all through the lens of a DMT trip, where I feel TOL is more of an acid/shroom trip) addressing such beliefs as those in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. ETV’s abstract, cosmic and colored sequences are similar to those in The Tree of Life. TOL however, is movie about life, the beginning of it and the fact that in some ways it never ends for an organism. Like one of the teaser posters states “Nothing Ever Stands Still”, one thing moves into and becomes something else, connectivity and continuation. I feel like this movie is so hard to critique for some because it is hard to see it as such. When I was watching it I felt alive and like a part of it as an expression of a romantic perspective of life and our universe. You don’t care that there really isn’t a plot because it just makes sense. I encourage you to go see it, or at least check out the trailer.
“There is simply nothing like it out there: profound, idiosyncratic, complex, sincere and magical; a confirmation that cinema can aspire to art.”
Take a look at the other cool posters made for the film below…