The Tree of Life (2011)


Drama, Fantasy


Terrence Malick




Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Finnegan Williams, Michael Koeth, Laramie Eppler, John Howell, Tye Sheridan, Kari Matchett, Joanna Going, Michael Showers, Kimberly Whalen, Jackson Hurst, Fiona Shaw, Crystal Mantecon, Tamara Jolaine, Dustin Allen


It follows middle-aged Jack O'Brien (Sean Penn) as he recalls his life as a young boy, particularly his demanding and overly strict father (Brad Pitt).


Will I ever be fully satisfied with a Terrence Malick film? The answer is pretty simple, no, it will never happen. I guess I just fail to understand his cinema because The Tree of Life was pretty much just another of his boring yet visually stunning films.

Once again Terrence Malick tries to tell a story without actually telling a story since this film basically has no plot - I'm not even sure if what I just wrote makes any sense. Anyway, it's just a series of sequences most of which are incredibly tedious and made quite annoying by the voice overs he loves so much. I have to admit though, that at some point when the film is finally focused on the love-hate relationship between father and son the film actually gets interesting and engaging.

Through that relationship, Malick tries to explore the meaning of life, he talks about evolution and spirituality, and questions the existence and benevolence of God. But like I said before, he does that in a very boring way, and with some sequences that are completely pointless and feel irrelevant to the meaning of the film. I'm talking about all that prehistoric thing.

Another problem I had with The Tree of Life was the difficulty, inability almost, to connect with the characters or care for them. I felt that especially with Sean Penn's character, a depressed and lost man who just seems detached from his younger self, like he doesn't care, so I ended up not giving a damn as well. But it's not Penn's fault, Malick is the one to be blamed.

Like I mentioned earlier, there's something that really amazed me about this film, the visuals. Mostly because of the astonishing cinematography by Lubezki, this is one of those films that are very beautiful to look at, and that has some very memorable scenes, like the flock of birds flying effortlessly.


  1. Replies
    1. Glad to see I'm not the only one having a hard time with Malick's movies.

  2. All'epoca, quando uscì al cinema, non nego che ne restai affascinato... film inclassificabile e pieno di interrogativi: Malick paragona la vita dell'uommo a quella dell'universo. La nascita (e la morte) di un figlio alle origini e alla fine del mondo. Come dire che l'universo è formato da tante piccole particelle insignificanti che, messe insieme, costituiscono la Natura e il motivo dell'esistenza. E forse insinua un dubbio: c'è davvero qualcosa dopo la morte? L'uomo è in grado di gestirsi da solo, oppure tocca alla Natura stessa regolare la vita?
    Film di grande impatto visivo, impreziosito come hai giustamente scritto dalla fotografia di Lubezki... peccato che in seguito Malick si sia ripetuto e intestardito su un tipo di cinema sempre più autoreferenziale e rarefatto, allontanandosi sempre più dal suo pubblico. E non riuscendo più a raggiungere le vette toccate con questo film

    1. A me purtroppo questo film non è piaciuto quanto avrei voluto, però concordo che i suoi ultimi lavori sono proprio una delusione. Ricordo ancora alla perfezione il giorno in cui vidi La sottile linea rossa per la prima volta, quello sì che era un film!

  3. I remembering seeing this in theaters at an Oscars Best Picture marathon, and I loved it initially 'cause it spoke to me on a lot of levels even if there isn't a plot. That said, I've never been compelled to watch it again 'cause it's just not interesting. Nice review!

    1. Good call. Also, I know people who watched it a second time and ended up hating it.

  4. I'm so with you on this. I HATE this film. So pretentious, nothing happens, and I don't care about anyone on the screen. Ugh!

    1. I'm so happy to know I'm not the only one.