The Tree of Life

22 06 2011

It’s directed by Terrence Malick, who’s considered a genius in filmmaking, it stars Brad Pitt, and it won the Cannes Palme d’Or this year. Do you need any more to convince you to seeing this movie? If so, then read carefully.

Terrence Malick has now directed only 5 feature films over the past 40 years or so. He’s currently working on his sixth film labeled “Untitled Terrence Malick Project.” He takes a lot of time to work on his films, but it always pays off. “The Tree of Life,” while not perfect, is still quite a miracle.

“The Tree of Life” stars Brad Pitt as Mr. O’Brien, a Texas father of three, and Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O’Brien. Sean Penn co-stars as one of the three boys haunted by the death of one of his brothers. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time.

The film mainly focuses on raising the O’Brien boys, but often cuts to cosmic, evolutionary images such as the beginning of time, cells uniting, or rides through space and time. It’s set in the 50’s, and the film feels very authentic. I think the production designer Jack Fisk is the one to thank for that.

“The Tree of Life” is also very well acted, especially by the boys portraying the O’Brien kids. Brad Pitt is very believable as the strict father and Jessica Chastain convincing as the mother, and the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is gorgeous. I also really loved Alexandre Desplat’s score. It is as ambient and beautiful as the movie. You could just listen to it for relaxation.

“The Tree of Life” has a running time of 138 minutes, which isn’t particularly long compared to “The New World” which is at almost 3 hours. But it still feels longer than “The New World,” which entertained throughout and never dragged. “The Tree of Life” drags in the second half of the movie, and the ending is far too long.

At the 84th Academy Awards, “The Tree of Life” should merit consideration for a Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Director, and Best Picture nomination. As for the acting Oscars, I liked the performances, but this isn’t that kind of movie.

I loved the cosmic imagery and the exploration of the meaning of life a lot. Though, I could’ve watched 138 minutes of that instead. Watching the children grow and the parents being parents was nice at the start, but after an hour and a half or so, I got sick of it.

But it’s refreshing to watch a movie that’s made with care for a change. This isn’t your average drama. For some it will evoke ideas for the meaning of life and other related themes. I just liked watching a film like this, dragged a bit, but the imagery of the cosmos and Earth hundreds of millions of years ago really appealed to me. And, did I mention… THERE ARE FRIGGIN DINOSAURS IN THIS MOVIE!

Rating: ★★★½





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