Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Tree of Life [ Movie Review ] ★★★
moviegoers about the enigmatic and non-linear narrative of this movie and offering refunds for those who walk out of the show.
Even Sean Penn was quoted in a French publication that "A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context!"
It makes you wonder how is it going to be a thought provoking film experience.
After experiencing Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line many years ago, I knew that there were going to be plenty of philosophy musing and questioning, abstract moments for the viewers to fill in the blank or link for themselves. It's pretty much the same for The Tree of Life.
There's hardly a conventional structure to tell the story of a Midwestern family dealing with the lost of a son. It started with Mrs and Mr O'Brien (Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt) receiving the news of their son death. It jumped to the modern day when their other son Jack O'Brien (Sean Penn) is a successful architect who was still affected by the death of his brother. The Tree of Life then depicts the formation of the universe with a prayer to God to ease the pain and briefly covers the evolution of life on planet Earth. After which, the bulk of the movie revolves around the O'Brien's household in the fifties, covering various aspects of the kids' growing up phrase and the relationship between the parents and the kids. Ending with an unexplained surreal reunion of the O'Brien family at a beach.
Personally, I felt that The Tree of Life is a movie that requires the right type of mood to watch. An unhurried contemplating patient mood to soak in all that's being shown. There are great visual and soundtracks that momentary helped ease the frustration with the difficulties in comprehending the significance of various events that's going on in this movie. But I got to agree with Sean Penn on how The Tree of Life could have been better. There's a degree of hollowness in the emotions that depicted in this movie. The philosophic contemplation had very little bearing when it's hard to be emotionally invested on the characters or their situation.
I don't think I had truly understood this movie in one setting. But I think it's ok. There enough goodness in The Tree of Life that make me want to revisit it in the future and perhaps the second viewing might give more insight to this multilayered movie.
In closing, The Tree of Life is not for the usual movie goers. Personally, going for a Terrence Malick movie felt like an uphill task. There's always so much richness in the sight and sound found in his movie and it's a treat to be immerse in them. But then again, it's like going for philosophy marathon lessons that one can never be too sure if they got the stamina to last through out. I would recommend this movie but you have been warned.