7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A divisive film but not without its reasons., 31 Aug. 2012
An intensely fractured, dense and detailed experience; I can see what it is about this film that rubs people up the wrong way. The intensely religious undercurrents will not appeal to all. It is grandiose and ambitious in equal measure. It is a film in awe of itself, but is also a film that is extremely pietistic and devoid of humour. The overarching philosophical standpoint is simplistic and naively pastoral in an "American Republican dream" sort of way. I felt its examination of the family unit to be too reliant on archetypes and cliches. It's not an original analysis. It had the feel of a mythology and lacked an awareness of the quotidian, mundane and down to earth. Of the lives that just tick away unnoticed. There was an almost demigod like feel to the characters in the epic sweep of this drama and I can see how this fails to appeal to certain rational, wry, down to earth folk who with a touch of ironic distance, humour and self deprecation, maybe don't take themselves as seriously as certain religious types. Types who still believe the human race to be at the centre of the Universe. A slightly Romantic and outdated ideal in this most scientific of worlds.
But, if you can get past all that;
The film is beautifully made with stunning cinematography throughout. Brad Pitt is excellent; an understated, uncumbersome performance. The women with the ginger hair could be accused of overacting but to be honest if I was in that role I'd probably go to town on it as well. In the end however, it was the kids who stole the show. Especially the eldest child. I felt the examination of his relationship to his father and younger brothers was brilliantly rendered. It felt completely genuine. Trance-like and raw. I also felt the scenes of nature, trees, lava, evolution, the universe etc although slightly tacked on, still clearly and succinctly made the point that we are part of a miraculous process that is worth admiring no matter what your world view. I loved the chaotic, fractured narrative. It is messy but thrillingly hangs together. It is rich in symbolism and brimming with colourful energy, feeling and light.
Ultimately, I think the message of this film is a completely worthy one. Life is amazing and awe inspiring if you stop to contemplate it. It is also short, dreamlike in remembrance and wholly mysterious. In a world obsessed with things this film makes the point that, as Phillip Larkin says, all that will remain of us is love. This might only be half true but in the end I was quietly stunned by this film. Its beauty, its contradictions, its confusions; so like the world itself.