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The Tree of Life [Blu-ray]
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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.
“A captivating, unmissable experience” *****--Total Film
“Brad Pitt gives the strongest performance of his career”--The Telegraph
“Awe-inspiring” *****--The Independent
“A masterpiece” *****--The Guardian
“Magnificent” *****--The Times
The long front lawns of summer afternoons, the flicker of sunlight as it sprays through tree branches, the volcanic surge of the Earth's interior as the planet heaves itself into being--you certainly can't say Terrence Malick lacks for visual expressiveness. The Tree of Life is Malick's long-cherished project, a film that centres on a family in 1950s Waco, Texas, yet also reaches for cosmic significance in the creation of the universe itself. The Texas memories belong to Jack (Sean Penn), a modern man seemingly ground down by the soulless glass-and-metal corporate world that surrounds him. We learn early in the film of a family loss that happened at a later time, but the flashbacks concern only the dark Eden of Jack's childhood: his games with his two younger brothers, his frustrated, bullying father (Brad Pitt), his one-dimensionally radiant mother (Jessica Chastain). None of which unfolds in anything like a conventional narrative, but in a series of disconnected scenes that conjure, with poetry and specificity, a particular childhood realm. The contributions of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and production designer Jack Fisk cannot be underestimated in that regard, and it should be noted that Brad Pitt contributes his best performance: strong yet haunted.
And how does the Big Bang material (especially a long, trippy sequence in the film's first hour) tie into this material? Yes, well, the answer to that question will determine whether you find Malick's film a profound exploration of existence or crazy-ambitious failure full of beautiful things. Malick's sincerity is winning (and so is his exceptional touch with the child actors), yet many of the movie's touches are simultaneously gaseous (amongst the bits of whispered narration is the war between nature and grace, roles assigned to mother and father) and all-too-literal (a dinosaur retreats from nearly killing a fellow creature--the first moments of species kindness, or anthropomorphic poppycock?). The Tree of Life premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Palme d'Or there after receiving boos at its press screening. The debate continues, unabated, from that point. --Robert Horton
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Chastain glows and Pitt gives his best ever performance, achingly true,
The other stuff, which concerns a grim family situation in 1950s Texas, was excellent in its own right. Brad Pitt was terrific as the tyrannical father and Jessica Chastain was quite gorgeous though, of course, playing the stereotypically submissive wife. The boys who played the sons were also excellent.
However, the family story was too long and drawn out and certainly if one were watching it in the cinema it would be quite an ordeal for both mind and backside. If Malick had edited this part of the film and cut about 30 minutes from it he would still have had a decent length 100 minute feature film and probably a masterpiece.
But sure there’s no talking to these genius types.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful story of human feeling and the 'natural against graceful' progression of the time line, and if you can pick up on it there is much more to see. d:oPublished 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
First of all this isn't a story driven, easy film so don't expect that. This is more like a tone poem with the story of a life and a family as its focus. Read morePublished 1 month ago by deanna ortiz
A very deep movie!. Beautifully filmed. Great music.
Very fast delivery!
Although the music and visual images are good the story plot got lost. The continuity was not good and at one point two of us exclaimed together that it looked like 2001 odyssey... Read morePublished 1 month ago by partyparty
my mum died recently and this film articulated so many feelings.an emotional experienePublished 2 months ago by andrew dimoglou
l love this film. Jessica Chastain is wonderful,as all the other characters are too.
The photography is incredible, a must to watch on a large projector screen for the best... Read more