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Customer Review

122 of 158 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What on earth....??, 8 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: The Tree of Life [DVD] (DVD)
It is actually quite difficult to give this film a bad review, for fear of the onslaught of people who will merely assume you lack the intelligence required to comprehend it and thus enjoy it. However, I am going to risk the inevitable deluge of unhelpful votes and tell it straight because I have seen many films in my life, and I thought this was a stinker.

The Tree Of Life is one of those films that tries too hard to be different, to be `out there'. These films are, in my opinion, deliberately confusing under the guise of being clever (when actually they are just plain rubbish) so that the viewer is ultimately confused but, not wishing to seem ignorant, professes the film to be profound and `a masterpiece'. It is a smug, pretentious film that takes itself too seriously, that thinks it's better than it actually is. It promises the earth, but delivers little.

The film has no plot, nothing actually happens. It's a boy reflecting on his childhood in 1950s America and the whole film is supposedly questioning whether there is a God and the meaning of life. It drifts aimlessly along, culminating in a downright strange ending. One comment I read in response to a negative review is that `the film reflects life, hence there are some things you won't understand'. What can I say? If you can relate to that comment then this film might be for you. That said, my intention in this review is not to criticise anyone who did actually enjoy the film - each to their own and perhaps it holds a special meaning for you that was lost on me - I am merely trying to counter the irritating recurring suggestion amongst some of these reviews that if you don't enjoy this film, you are somehow intellectually inferior to those who did.

I do agree that The Tree of Life has a lovely soundtrack and some of the shots were very arty and clever, however those two factors alone do not make a film in my eyes. As for the scenes of nature, again nicely shot but after approximately 20 minutes non-stop National Geographic-esque footage of exploding volcanoes, water and dinosaurs (yes, dinosaurs), interspersed with some dream-like whispering, I was starting to lose the will to live.

Given that this film is pretty evenly split between the `love it' and `hate it' camps, I can't tell you to avoid the Tree of Life as there is roughly a 50% chance you will enjoy it. So watch it if you remain defiant, and draw your own conclusion. However I remain in the `hate it' camp and wish I hadn't wasted over two hours of my life watching so-called philosophical drivel.
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Showing 1-10 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Dec 2011 22:56:56 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Dec 2011 23:03:42 GMT
BookLover59 says:
No need to be afraid to say it's a stinker! :) Malick's first two films -- "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven" -- were terrific. "Thin Red Line" was almost a good film (needed a LOT more editing).

But this one is a sad mix of film-school-student-navel-gazing-and-self-indulgence (in the script and in the endless Discovery Channel-cum-Disney creation sequence -- done better already by others in TV documentaries), and in the rehash of coming-of-age/boyhood stories (see "Stand By Me" for a better version) and Father vs. son struggles I(something that nearly EVERY male film critic eats up like potato chips). The actors -- especially Jessica Chastain and the children -- were great, but the film appeals only to those inclined toward navel-gazing and/or finding deep meaning in patterns left by moisture and mildew on refrigerator doors ("it's Jeeesus!").

Next time, perhaps Malick will get a real screenwriter so he'll actually have a _story_ -- too many people forget the importance of that five letter word.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Dec 2011 12:09:42 GMT
Andrea Smith says:
Phew, it's not just me then :)

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2012 13:58:13 GMT
Balveda says:
"actually have a _story_"

I think you completely misunderstood this film, it's not a film in the traditional sense and it's all the better for it, nice to have something a bit different for a change rather than just another 'story'.

Posted on 30 Jan 2012 08:19:18 GMT
This film reminded me of conceptual art, attempting to portray a mysterious message which the viewer has to work out. I was left baffled and bored.

Posted on 18 Feb 2012 20:59:42 GMT
Film Idiot says:
How refreshing - an honest opinion, honestly delivered, in a sensible way. Thank you for that, I will give the film a miss.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Feb 2012 21:22:07 GMT
Balveda says:
As opposed to dishonest opinions from people who liked the film?

Posted on 21 Feb 2012 12:19:25 GMT
Asphodelia says:
I think that after reading your review I will remove it from my LoveFilm's rental list...I did suspect that it would be rubbish - typical Brad Pitt pretentious 'I'm not only famous for my looks!' stuff...

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 09:33:47 GMT
Mike Mac says:
Excellent review, and not just because it accurately reflects my own feelings about this film. Having read a number of effusively complimentary reviews before I saw it, I found myself thinking: "Is it me?.." But no, it wasn't. I know what I like, and this wasn't it. Pretentious, self-serving pseudo-intellectual psycho-babble. And as you say... dinosaurs?! You'd get a more accurate and entertaining exploration of the 'meaning of life' from the Monty Python version...

Posted on 1 Apr 2012 17:29:38 BDT
Andrea Smith says it all...I'm so thankful we don't live near a canal...we honestly thought it was that bad. After ten mins we were still waiting for it to start! Over two hours wasted ...sigh. It really is quite difficult to "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" with this lemon.

Posted on 26 Apr 2012 22:20:03 BDT
kaper says:
agreed. emperor's new clothes, I suspect.
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