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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 visuals are stunning. It's as if the purpose is to design a piece of art. We see trees blowing in the winds, birds dancing in the air, clouds going past ... And as the mother whispers about her loss to God, asking why her son has been taken, the film embarks on a grand journey. We witness the cosmos in all its grandeur. We see the galaxy, full of stars and nebula. We see the early Earth, being bombarded by meteorites. Volcanoes erupting. Water flowing. And primitive life emerges ... and evolves. We see dinosaurs, and their ultimate extinction. This is the journey life has taken. And to inquire about one life in particular, its meaning and why death has occurred, is a question asked against the backdrop of life in all its radiant entirety.
This is a long film, without a definitive narrative.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very weird film, really pretentious as it tries so much symbolism with how the world formed and dinosaurs and strange monologues from Sean Penn. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Simon Woods
BRILLIANT. SHOWING THE BIG PICTURE OF EXISTENCE. GREAT ACTORS. GREAT STORYLINE.Published 1 month ago by Romulus9000
Visually stunning but so disjointed it was difficult to follow. Couldn't wait for it to end so we could go to bed!Published 2 months ago by Mrs Janet Wilson
speedy delivery ..thought provoking amazing movie ..a classic !!Published 2 months ago by shirley jenkins
I recorded this when film4 screened it recently and have just tried to watch it. I managed 30 minutes. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Crafty Ceri