Further Comments On “Tree of Life”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My movie bud Michael Shields and I saw “Tree of Life” last weekend. Being an admirer of director Terrence Malick (“Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line”), I was very eager to catch the film, but admittedly had trepidations.
My instincts were right.
Predictably, Michael loved “The Tree of Life.” He’s a guy who appreciates esoteric expositions.
Me, I applauded its ambitions, but didn’t consider the film a successful execution due to its hard-to-follow non-lineal presentation moving from architect Jack O’Brien’s boyhood in 1950s Waco, Texas, to a fearful Parasaurolophus facing predators in the Late Cretaceous Era, and back again.
Sean Penn as Jack, and Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain as his parents, do a credible job of delivering Malick’s autobiographical ruminations, but the side trips that take us soaring into deep space and wallowing among the primeval ooze are distracting.
Michael Shields termed the film “enigmatic” and described it as a “visual poem.”
My opinion? Brilliant, but not fare that average audiences will find satisfying. “The Tree of Life” is a highly personal film, as if Terry Malick has opened up his brain with a can opener and let all the impressionistic shards of his boyhood memories come spewing out.
Yes, this is Malick’s attempt to come to terms with his family – stern father, passive mother, the loss of a brother – but perhaps like that Parasaurolophus he’s bitten off more than he can chew.