If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Life. What is it? Why are we here? Was there life, before "life" life? What started it all? Is there meaning behind any of this? All of these questions will not be answered in Terrance Mallick's Tree of Life. In fact, Mallick's recent drama starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, actually managed to raise even more questions than those had before going into it.
The film from the very beginning revolves around the death of someone who was very close to the other main characters in this film, and from that death comes a lot questioning but almost no answers. The film, Mallick and cinematographer Emanuel Lubezki follows up on these questions, with some of the most gorgeous cinematography, which focuses on from when the earth was first created up until what appears to be an afterlife setting. The majority of this cinematography is encompassed by a beautiful score as well an extremely moving narration by the character of Jessica Chastain, and with the help of those visuals it makes it all the harder to turn away from.
With Tree of Life, Mallick not only focuses on these questions which we ask ourselves on a daily basis, but also focuses on these two apparent ways in which we can live our lives which include the way of grace and a way of basically living without morals. This is where many, including myself, would come to a standstill and begin to disagree with parts of the film mainly because, thats wrong. At least in my eyes and I'm sure several of you can agree that there aren't simply only two ways of living your life since life isn't simply Black and White, there's more to it than that. But Mallick confronts this flaw by focusing on this family set in the 1950's for the majority of the film, which is where he begins to seemingly contradict himself. First he starts of saying there are two ways in which you can live life, but then all of sudden life is something so complex that it can't simply be divided into two categories of living it. But the way in which Mallick is able to capture that feeling of living life again, made it possible to practically ignore those problems, since he appears to recreate childhood in probably the most flawless way I've ever seen done on film.
But that again points to another weakness which this movie suffered from, and that was a lack of focus. It never lied on necessarily one plot point which means that the film didn't really even have a plot, which makes it hard to even call Tree of Life a film. Which leads to the ultimate conclusion that The Tree of Life isn't a film, its an experience and its an unforgettable one as well.
It's an experience that will leave you thinking, one that you most likely wont understand at all especially with its extremely ambiguous ending and one which you will find it hard to look away from because its just so damn gorgeous to look at. It's run time went on a little longer than I felt it had to, but I respected how Mallick wanted to take his time to give us his vision, and he did a damn good job at doing so.