The Tree of Life

2 Jan

Director: Terrence Malick

Writer: Terrence Malick

Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 139 minutes

 

 

This film won the 2011 Palme d’Or for its reclusive director Terence Malick, a man that has made just 5 films in 4 decades, but all to significant critical acclaim. Malick is a true maverick and appears finally to be increasing his productivity since The Thin Red Line ‘comeback’ of 1998. He also appears to be as fascinated by the natural world and man’s progress through it as ever and The Tree of Life continues that theme and in the trademark sedate and dreamlike Malick style.

The core of this movie is a 1950’s middle class Texas family with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain as the parents of 3 young boys. It is their progress, their ups, downs, frustrations and anger that are the focus and that inform the rest of the film (including a modern section with Sean Penn in the grown-up role of the eldest boy). At times the film runs like a home movie such is the down-to-earth and personal nature of the production. And it is a very personal and real film. Terence Malick was raised in Waco, Texas in the 1950’s and he is absolutely spot on with the father and son dynamic.

Besides the Pitt / Chastain family drama that slowly unfolds, there are other sections of this film that explore the natural world around us and that even head out into space. These sections are beautiful, mysterious and inspiring, but they are lengthy at times and they are the sort of art house elements that wow Palme d’Or committees, but leave many others cold. For me they were stunning.

So The Tree of Life is about family, church, the impact of parents on their children, our place in the world, and our approach to it all. As the mother states early on, one can follow nature (and be selfish and hard) or one can follow grace (and be humble and loving) to plot one’s route through life. Such decisions do have repercussions of course and we are all products of the families that raised us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: