The Tree of Life: directed and written by Terrence Malick
I came in late to the party in terms of watching and reviewing The Tree of Life, so I couldn’t escape the faint murmur of appreciation that ran wrought over the general critical nooks and crannies I frequent. My knowledge of the film, though, was still essential nonexistent as to Malick’s take on the story of the Midwestern couple and their three sons. Oftentimes I tend to place, sometimes more than necessary, an overemphasis on the importance of film titles and The Tree of Life (the name) reeks of an almost bombastic pretentiousness. The gargantuan concept it suggests does not seem like one which can comprehensively be addressed by a single film, but Malick attempts to do just that.
Because the film that depends on the flashes it gives us its cinematography becomes its most important facet and it’s beautifully shot. We see the towering sky scrapers of the present, a butterfly, cows grazing, and the planets as they align and alignment seems to be a theme on occasion. Even as it veers into the self absorbed (sporadically going against its own gracious attempts) there is the striking sense that Malick is making precisely the film he intends to. He constantly eschews his actors for his own inclinations (still Pitt, McCracken and a luminous Jessica Chastain shine) and that in itself makes sense because the universe does not begin or end with humans.