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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