The Tree of Life 2011

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(196) IMDb 6.7/10
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The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.

Starring:
Joanna Going, Kari Matchett
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 19 minutes
Starring Joanna Going, Kari Matchett, Jennifer Sipes, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Fiona Shaw
Director Terrence Malick
Genres Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Studio 20th Century Fox
Rental release 28 November 2011
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jerkwad on 6 Sept. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have a cautious love for this film. An oddity in some ways, seeking to place the story of one family and their regrets in the context of the beginning of existence and the eventual end of the world. Majestically shot, superbly acted, but perhaps Malick could have placed the very important dialogue (of which there is not that much in the whole film) a bit higher in the mix. Subtitles helped me out here in a way that people who saw the film in the cinema weren't blessed with. With great art comes the risk of great pretentiousness and this is certainly a film that walks the tightrope between the two.Which side of the tightrope you fall off and land in will be very much about who, and how reflective you are.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Adam VINE VOICE on 12 May 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I took a chance on this film after hearing various bewildered critical responses from cinema goers and critics. At issue seemed to be the sprawling cosmic imagery, intercutting scenes of family drama, with sequences involving dinosaurs being singled out for especial derision.
Still, intrigued, I rented this, and I am incredibly glad that I did.
The film is long and sprawling, and you are put in the mind frame for the human wrestling the transcendent straightaway, with a quote from the Book of Job, the voice of God, no less;
"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world..."
The film unfolds at a searching, meditative pace, but we go straight to intense human drama, with the O'Brien family receiving news of the death of a son. The action then rewinds, through the mind's eye of Sean Penn's middle aged architect reflecting on his boyhood with this family, and the character of the mother (Jessica Christian) reflecting on the twin paths of 'Grace' and 'Nature.'
The interplay between the sons and the parents in the America of their day (50's Texas) is the human drama of the film. The mother is all gentleness and grace, but with steel too. The father (an impressive Brad Pitt), authoritarian and wounded, is scarred into an oppressive attitude to his boys by what he sees as the merciless, Darwinian struggle of life.
The Sean Penn character, as a boy, grows and rebels, increasingly testing his father. There are also landmark events that further underscore the frightening side of life. The drowning of a boyhood friend is a particularly chilling and effective example of this, with the grotesque suddenness and splintering horror of it breaking in when least expected to a carefree community event.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bob Vernon on 1 April 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The difference between Art and Entertainment is that Art demands something of the viewer. This is a very demanding film and many have refused the demand. For those who do respond it rewards with a new narrative style, visual beauty, and profound (and challenging) theological insight into the value and cost of human life. I have shown this movie 14 times to friends and still cannot take my eyes from the screen.
Chastain glows and Pitt gives his best ever performance, achingly true,
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By THE MOVIE GUY on 6 Aug. 2013
Format: DVD
The Tree of Life ironically deals with the topic of death. The film tells you to turn up the sound so you can hear all the first person narration. When their son dies at the age of 19 parents cope with the loss and question their faith, but not severely question their faith that would alter their life style. After the characters are introduced, we still see Sean Penn doesn't own a comb. The film digresses into a Discovery Channel special which condenses the modern version of creation of 14.7 billion years into about 12 minutes. I felt like we had passed into the monolith.

We now start all over with the birth of the children. Hey, we already know one dies. There are things that are whispered. These are meant to be ideas or questions for God. Brad Pitt metaphorically represents the "tough love" God who prepares us for life's journey without us realizing it. Hence we have the macrocosm and microcosm in our tale. One could assume that the microcosm of our life is reflective of our theological views, we carve out a tough love God based upon our tough love "Father". At one point in the movie Brad Pitt insists his son call him "Father" and never "Dad." Having lived in the south, that is a no-no. "Father" is reserved for the heavenly Father. That is a hint of the symbolism. A sermon stresses the book of Job and asks, "Is the scheme of life a fraud?"

Not for everyone. I was very bored until I figured out what they were attempting to do. I think the beauty of the film is that different people can grasp a different meaning from it. It doesn't spell it out. My review is one take.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Jan. 2014
Format: DVD
Well, where do you start with a Terence Malick film (particularly a recent one)? To me, he's rather like Lars von Trier (oh no, I've upset two camps now). As with many von Trier films, The Tree Of Life has some brilliant moments and is a film whose impact (and appeal?) I suspect may well grow on repeat viewings (this is true for me after two 'gos') .... and yet does it hang together enough (and, at least as importantly, engage the viewer for what is a duration pushing two and a half hours)? For me, probably not.

Of course, the film is impressive as purely a sensorial experience. Its mix of an intimate story of a Texan family, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain's Mr and Mrs O'Brien (the former a domineering 'devout businessman', the latter a (mostly)subservient 'automaton') and their young sons, and surreal story spanning the 'ages of man' give plenty of opportunity for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to display his virtuosity (though its initial efforts to 'do a 2001' are, for me, badly misjudged, and its 'Jurassic Park moments', at best, merely superfluous and gratuitous). Similarly, Malick's use of music is generally impressive, with particular favourites for me being the stunning opening bars of Mahler's 1st Symphony, followed (in short order) by some (for me, unidentified) sublime choral music.

Acting-wise, I would say Malick's film is 'solid'. For me, Pitt's performance has been over-rated (it's not a patch on his turn in The Assassination Of Jesse James, for example) and to give equal 'star billing' to Sean Penn's '10 minute cameo' is rather disingenuous. Of the adults, I found Chastain the most impressive as the stoic, put-upon wife who eventually reaches the end of her tether.
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