4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An experience rather than a film in the traditional sense,
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This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
Some critics might argue that this film is the first and last thirty minutes of '2001: A Space Odyssey' cut together and interwoven with a story about a middle-American family in the 50s and early 60s with a flash forward to the present day containing the grown up son going through a possible mid-life crisis.
There is, in the traditional sense, no linear story. Malik (an erudite professor who makes films very rarely) has created a symbolic piece of art which takes its form in this piece of celluloid: the stars (Messrs Pitt and Penn) do not 'star' in the film. The star of the film is the experience that it creates. This sounds terribly enigmatic and when I watched this in Notting Hill Gate at least 4 people walked out after less than half an hour, so it is clearly not a film for everyone, as other reviewers have made clear. It is, from a dialogue and story and plot perspective, difficult to follow, if that is what you're looking for, but with 'Tree of Life' I do not think that that is the point Malik was trying to make.
I think it helps to approach this film as you would an art installation: the parallels Malik draws between family life and the Jurassic period are oddly compelling, and the fact that Sean Penn barely speaks, but goes on a journey of discovery into his past, questioning his existence, his value to society in the present day, has to be concluded by the viewer rather than shoved in our face by the filmmaker.
This film has the ability to have a profound effect on its audience: to make them consider their own lives and experiences and motivations and influences. It is greater than the sum of its parts, a venture into an expressive medium that transcends film and attempts, provocatively, to reach for the hand of God.
It is almost certainly worth watching. You may, unless properly primed, turn off or go and make a tea after 30 minutes. 'Why is nothing happening?' you may ask, possibly as a result of movies in the 21st century being created with the object of spoon-feeding us emotions and story.
But stick with it. This is superb stuff. Five stars.