If it's crap ... We'll tell you
****Warning some spoilers******
I remember watching a trailer for this movie several months ago, and totally being sold on it at first sight. Why? because it reminded me of 2001 Space Oddysey, which if you don't know, is one of my favorite movies. Its surreal and full of visual depth, that, along with the music, leads the audience through the film with minimal dialogue. These movies aren't for the masses, mainly because it really forces you to think about whats going on and how it all connects as a whole...its conceptually deep, and it's unorthodoxed form of story telling may confuse people and bore them. So if your not in the mood to use your head or feel shit, and you desperately need a film that follows the more traditional movie structure..go watch an aging Harrison Ford growl at James Bond in Cowboys and Aliens. Now before people start bitch'n...I'm not saying that one genre is better than the other, I LOVE superhero, action, zombie, fantasy, and alien movies. Heck I practically was in tears after watching Captain America!!! (i spent 3 weeks without watching a movie, which for me is the equivilient of a drug addict going through withdrawals).
These "artistic" films are far and few, and I felt really lucky that I had the opportunity to see this movie in the big screen. I'd pay good money if I can see 2001 in a theatre..
The Tree of Life is directed by Terrence Malick. The only film of his i have ever recalled watching is "A New World", that was an okay movie but no where near as memorable as the Tree of Life (has anything with Colin Ferrel ever been memorable?). I'm gonna say without hesitation that The Tree of Life is definitely Malick's masterpiece.
The film's theme centers around life and death. It starts with a narration of a women that tells us that there are two ways to live your life in this world, with Grace or by the law of Nature. It focuses on the lives of the O'Brian family, mainly that of the eldest son Jack Obrian. It's important to mention that the film jumps between two Jacks, the Adult Jack, who is a successful architect living in a jungle of skyscrapers and Jack the boy. Jack the man seems to be having issues, we see him in constant conflict.. reminicsing about earlier times, we see him in the elevator apologizing to his dad, telling him that he thinks about his brother every day. The film then jumps to Jack the boy who lives with his mother and father and two younger brothers in Texas. His mother is a loving woman and totally opitimizes Grace and his Father a strict disciplinarian (a bit abusive),who is determined to have his son's grow up strong, without people walk all over them. Father in this story represents nature. Mother and Father are introduced in the movie mourning the recent loss of Jack's brother. The film then leaves the Obrian's and proceeds to take us on this massive journey of how life began and evolved on earth, making the O'brian's loss feel rather insignificant in the whole massive scale of things. This first half is visually stunning. We watch the world begin...we even get to see Dinosaurs and it's here that we get to see a dino scene that you'll never see in Jurassic Park...i wont spoil it.. but i will just say that it's pretty awesome and significant to the Woman's (revealed to be Mrs. Obrian) statement about life in the begining of the film.
We leave these awesome images and return back to Jack, we watch the courtship of his parents, his birth, and then we see him grow into adolescents. It is at this period of his life that the film stops and explores Jack in depth..why? because this is around the age where a child begins to loose their innocence, and its in this period that we start to solidify who we will becom as adults. Any how we start to see cracks developing in Jack's once perfect little world of endless happy play time in the front yard. We see moments of tension between the boys and their strict father, arguments between his parents..all of which are scattered between happier moments of the brothers at play in the yard with mother and father. In short it is pretty much the most truthful and honest depiction of a family i have ever scene. The objective here is that Jack central world is composed of two opposites, grace (mom) and Nature (dad)....he is battling between these two states of being, and the result is he starts to rebel against his folks..and begins testing the limits as to how far he can go with himself....(the dark side? maybe..at least that poor frog in the movie would think so).
All the while older Jack seems to be searching for something..peace? forgiveness? acceptance of what was lost? It really isn't said, but my guess is that its all these things. The film concludes in a wonderful depection of things finally being resolved between Jack and all the people in his life...
While i felt that the film kind of lagged a bit during the ending...It was just a wonderful thing to watch. The cinimatography of this film is the real winner here. The camera is constantly moving, giving it this graceful surreal quality to the film. I will be shocked if they don't get an oscar for that alone. Throughout the happenings of the film there are cuts to the Obrians tree, the camera follows it's winding branches up towards the sky. The tree is constantly growing..and while Jack and his family are going through their little crisis.. life keeps moving forward, the trees branches keep growing leaving only behind the remnants of past events.
Brad Pitt looks totally unrecognizable in this film, and he does a great job playing this caring, strict, bully of a Father....i'm assuming he has plenty of experience with this as he has like a zillion kids. Abusive daddy? maybe...I leave that up to you. Mother is played by Jessica Chastain, who in my opinion should totally play an elf in Jacksons next Tolkien movie. She successfully portrays this very sweet loving mother..she is freaking grace..and one is left wondering why the hell this woman would marry such an ass hole in the first place....oh yeah..its Brad Pitt...i guess you can't judge a book by its hot cover. Adult Jack is played by Sean Penn..which leaves you wondering what the hell happened to his parents "beautiful" genes..my guess is the pretty gene skipped a generation. Jack the boy is played by the talented Hunter McCracken..aside from the kick ass name..his acting skills are also pretty kick ass as well, at least i hope he was acting, cause other wise this kid is totally gonna end up in prison one day. The chemistry between the brothers is totally believable...you would never guess these boys are not related or acting for that matter. The parent and child moments totally feel real as well.
The director Malick does an exceptional job taking this film from begining to end. And while i found the ending a bit too long...my guess is that another viewing will prove me wrong...cause everything else in this movie felt totally right. There is no doubt in my mind that this guy was inspired by 2001 space oddysey and i cant wait to hear the directors commentary on DVD/bluray. It's a total buy. And its totally worth watching..it really makes you think. Its a piece of art and definitely will be a favorite in the coming award season.
4.8 out of 5 stars...a great movie....better than 2001? Not sure..i really like my sci fi..