The Tree of Life
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1950s-set drama from filmmaking master Terrence Malick (Badlands, The Thin Red Line), starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Winner of the Palme d'Or (Best Film) at Cannes Film Festival 2011.
An impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950s, the film follows the life of eldest son, Jack (Penn, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Pitt) while questioning the existence of faith. "Malick draws a picture of family life as archetypal as a child’s questions about God, and connects it all to rapturous visions of the origins of the universe and the end of time." (NZ International Film Festival 2011)
Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Fiona Shaw, Joanna Going, Jessica Chastain, Kari Matchett
Terrence Malick ('The New World', 'The Thin Red Line', 'Days of Heaven', 'Badlands')
Festivals & Awards
Winner of the Palme d'Or (Best Film) at Cannes Film Festival 2011.
(M) contains adult themes | Drama | USA | Official Website
Add your two cents...
Great and solid, good for grown audience
Not for kids that's for sure. An evoking and heartfelt story where we learn so much about life, and start from the beginning to the end and then back again. It's beautiful if you are open to the silliness, and if you allow it to show you the way during these two hours.Reviewed by Jonathan
Wow, seeing the reviews below, just strengthens my belief in the dwindling average intelligence of mankind. This film is brilliant. You should see Idiocracy, or maybe not...Reviewed by anon
Dont waste your money or time on this one!!!Reviewed by A
Had to comment again...(see below). I am still f#cked off at how seriously BAD this movie is. Artsy fartsy people will try to convince you it has real substance and meaning, but the fact is, it is a long and boring ride through utter nothingness. THERE IS NO SUBSTANCE TO THIS MOVIE! NO TWIST! NO BEAUTY! NO ART! It is pure crap!!Reviewed by Matt
Worst Movie Ever.
WARNING WARNING WARNING. The producers of this movie are laughing at you for wasting your money on this absolute piece of sh#t. DO NOT WATCH.Reviewed by Matt
Didnt like it at all.
This was the most stupid movie I have ever seen. Having Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in it was just depressing. Dont waste moy getting this out on dvd , dont even bother watching it..Reviewed by leah
This movie is rubbish.Reviewed by phil
Worst movie I've ever seen, DO NOT watch, biggest waste of 2hours of my life!Reviewed by Anon
Sooooooo boring I couldn't watch the whole thing and my husband fell asleep!!Reviewed by A Cam
A.V. Club (USA)
In terms of scale, The Tree Of Life recalls the mammoth ambition of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," but it's also more intimate and personal than Malick's previous films, rooted in vivid memories of growing up in '50s Texas.Click to read full review.
Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," and it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling.Click to read full review.
There is simply nothing like it out there: profound, idiosyncratic, complex, sincere and magical; a confirmation that cinema can aspire to art.Click to read full review.
A beauteous creation that ponders the imponderables, asks the questions that religious and thoughtful people have posed for millennia and provokes expansive philosophical musings along with intense personal introspection.Click to read full review.
Los Angeles Times
While Malick's great ability holds us for a time, it is finally not enough to compensate for a lack of dramatic involvement - those eschatological quandaries tend to overwhelm the story. The Tree of Life, its enormous advantages notwithstanding, ends up a film that demands to be admired but cannot be easily embraced.Click to read full review.
New York Times
With disarming sincerity and daunting formal sophistication The Tree of Life ponders some of the hardest and most persistent questions, the kind that leave adults speechless when children ask them.Click to read full review.
Sunday Star Times (Kate Mead)
It is clear there are religious themes and while watching this film we are supposed to ponder the big questions, like what is the meaning of life?Click to read full review.
The Telegraph (UK)
It’s impossible not to marvel at the ambition of The Tree of Life.Click to read full review.
Total Film (UK)
Terrence Malick’s spiritual odyssey is baffling, unique and overspilling with wonder.
Result is pure-grade art cinema destined primarily for the delectation of Malick partisans and adventurous arthouse-goers.
Matt Glasby, Flicks.co.nz
“Toscanini once recorded a piece 65 times,” says frustrated musician Brad Pitt to his three young sons (led by Hunter McCracken). “You know what he said when he finished? ‘It could be better.’” Malick put a similar level of artistic endeavour into this much-lauded near-masterpiece. An attempt to come to terms with the suicide of his brother (represented here by Laramie Eppler), this is a film so intimate it fictionalises the director’s childhood recollections, and so ambitious it rewinds back to the beginning of time to do so. Adaptation tried the same thing, albeit as a gag.
In the first 45 minutes alone we witness the Big Bang, CG dinosaurs and the birth of mankind, as Sean Penn (McCracken as an adult), Pitt and long-suffering mother/wife Jessica Chastain beg the universe for answers. It’s confounding, borderline pretentious, stuff, but there’s no denying the emotional weight it lends – imagine flicking through a Bible and someone’s baby book at once.
Shot as if by an all-seeing deity, and edited like a stream-of-consciousness Stand By Me, the middle section of the film is the most affecting. We watch McCracken and co buckle under Pitt’s brutal tutelage and blossom in their mother’s love, Penn/Malick’s memories wafting back willy-nilly like sunshine through the clouds. Perhaps impatient viewers should consider the film’s more cosmic concerns as extravagant bookends to a beautiful – if baffling – family drama. Could The Tree of Life be shorter, clearer, easier to grasp? For sure. Could it be better? Not a chance.