The Tree of Life

52 Movies: Week 5

The Tree of Life

The first hour of The Tree of Life is overwhelmingly beautiful, and I mean that quite literally.  I went into the movie anticipating an incredible visual treat but I was still unprepared for the powerfully beautiful imagery that followed.  I don’t think there is another director alive who is better able to capture the rapturous beauty of existence than Terrence Malick.

What follows the metaphysical opening is a series of vignettes as Jack (played in a modern era framing devise by Sean Penn) reflects back on his childhood with a complex father (Brad Pitt) who, while loving, is domineering and at times capricious.  In that relationship we find an analogy for man’s relationship with God and, in that regard, this movie serves as sort of a companion piece to the Coen Brothers’  A Simple Man.   While the tone of the two films could not be more different, both draw heavily on the Book of Job and both explore the same issues regarding man’s need to understand the inscrutable.

The Tree of Life is brilliant, moving and incredibly beautiful but it is not for everyone.  Malick’s style is, as ever, meditative and languid.  The Tree of Life eschews conventions of plot and exposition and is, on some levels a two and a half hour visual poem.  Even if you are open to this sort of movie, you need to be in the right frame of mind when you sit down to watch it.  Needless to say, this movie deserves to be seen in hi def.

All of that having been said, the Tree of Life is one of the best movies of 2011 and I have no hesitation giving it a full five stars.


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