The Tree of Life – review

The Tree of Life is by far the most frustrating film I have ever watched. Period. Americans always like to say ‘period’ at the end of sentence for dramatic effect, I thought I would copy. Terrence Malick was obviously really trying to show-off with this film, egotism probably got the better of him. It’s strange because the whole story is based on the teaching of grace, I wish this film could have been a bit more graceful.

It’s a shame, because the film has a lot of things going for it. Tremendous acting, Brad Pitt once again excels. Even when he is playing this stern, somewhat aggressive father role, I still like him. The three boys in this film are great actors too. I have never seen such natural acting on screen between children. Another major plus of this film is the cinematography; there are lots of beautiful shots.  I loved the close-up shots of the family; you really feel the emotion when you’re that close. Close-ups can expose actors’ flaws, but in this film it allowed each actor to prove themselves. The shots of nature were awe-inspiring, but I thought they would be better suited to the BBC’s Planet Earth. This is where I begin to turn sour.

This film is too long, I repeat ‘too long’. After this film, I felt like calling for a cap to put on film length. The human mind can only concentrate for so long, but then I remember such films as Apocalypse Now and Lord of the Rings. And I remember films can last 2 hours and half plus and still be good. There are too many shots of nature which don’t add anything to the storyline, but then I question what is the storyline? I ponder for a second, then realise I don’t actually know. I think it is about nature and grace (please don’t hurt me Terrence Malick if it’s not), because it mentioned that at the start of the film. It does make you think about life and deep shit, but unfortunately it’s a bad film. Little bit too experimental and too long. I wish you could have felt the wave of relief which washed over the audience when the credits began to roll, but there was no catharsis. A truly baffling film.


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