Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Movie Review: "The Tree of Life"

If film could be poetry, then Terrence Malick's film, The Tree of Life, is one such film. The Tree of Life is a non-linear, visual experiment of a film that jumps around in the life of a small town American family, in particular their eldest son, Jack, from childhood to manhood. Through the eyes of Jack, Malick takes interludes into outer space, microscopic surroundings, and all the way to the dinosaur days, to explore greater ideas such as the creation of the universe and religion, tying them into Jack's arc of slowly discovering the world around him, through his strict father, brushes with death, rebellion, and angst. Simply, The Tree of Life is a metaphysical journey that makes the viewer think, reflect, and remember, and not many films are special enough to say that.

The imagery that Malick and cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, concoct is so lush and filled with details, that each shot, from cut to cut, requires thought as to the symbolic meaning of what that shot means and what is its purpose at that moment in the story. The film often has moments with odd jump cuts that displace one from the moment, as well as some quick cutting from luscious image to luscious image, often not allowing the viewer to drink the images in long enough to even attempt to figure out the symbolic impact. In all actuality, only one man truly knows what this all means, and it is writer/director Terrence Malick. This is a film that shows how he views life, and how he feels we should view life.

The film opens with a bible verse from the Book of Job, constantly referencing back to Job's story throughout the film, of how every bad thing imaginable happens to one man, and yet he still manages to praise God. The Tree of Life shows life as it is, thanks to the experiences of Jack and his family, and it makes a viewer question why bad things often happen. Malick chooses not to answer that question, for that is not his place to tell us, but he does tell the viewer that through love and grace is the only way to have life, so it is through love and grace that we should live.

I give The Tree of Life an A-!

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