Oct 27, 2011

Tree of Life[2011]

I finally got around to seeing Tree of Life by Terence Malick!

I started watching this with the idea in my mind that I will probably hate it or think it is too much for me. Let's just say that I was right, but I got a few surprises, as well!

The first thing you need to know about this movie is that it's a unique one, not something you normally see. You love it or you hate it! There are few chances to get in the middle (surprise, surprise, I am there, anyway, moving on).

The film starts with the story of a 1950s family, with Pitt as the father figure, Jessica Chastain as the mother and 3 young brothers. It's the beginning of a beautiful, sad, yet very real story following the normal struggles that a family can go through. Here, Terence Malick shows his great gift and surprises the audience (well, actually maybe just me) with amazing camera movement: sometimes it's erratic, uneven, alert, but beautiful, it feels like he is playing with the camera, experimenting the best way to introduce us into their lives; other times, it's looks studied and fluid.

Then we go into the part that I don't understand and I think shouldn't even be in the movie. Although I loved the nature scenes and they were very well executed, I didn't really understand their relevance. I know, it has a deeper meaning that I am not getting! My loss!

Seeing this film, I couldn't help thinking about what Terence Malick was thinking and why did he choose to shows particular scenes that didn't feel necessary or interesting enough to be on screen. The whole movie, in my perspective, is like the mind of an artist, a creative, mad genius. You feel like he is telling the story, he is behind the camera- he has so many ideas and thoughts, that sometimes he can't put them in a simple, straight way, he doesn't know how to express them in a logical manner. It is very appealing and mesmerizing and you can sense there is more then meets the eye, but it's so chaotic and so artistic, that for the majority of the people seeing it, it gets confusing.

After the nature scenes, we go back to reality and the family. He shows us the love connection between the man and woman and then goes on to show and describe the life of the 3 brothers- their fears, the love they have for one another, trust, sympathy, questions, feelings etc.; you get that for the next 1 hour and 45 minutes and this where things go downhill for me. As much as I loved seeing Jessica Chastain unearthly presence, the fantastic performances given by the father (Brad Pitt) and the son(Hunter McCracken) and, again, the fluid way it was shot, 105 minutes is a bit too much. I got bored and was hoping, by the end of it, to just get it over with it.

I was so annoyed by those long, unnecessary scenes, that I didn't even had the patience to properly see and understand the end of the movie, who anyway seemed too deep and philosophical for me. Hey, I admit, I don't have that level of knowledge or appreciation of art- but I am getting there!

I am not saying it is not a good movie, because it is, but it is too much sometimes! Terence Malick tried to create an amazing artistic film, but didn't really stop and think about what the audience might want or understand. It might have won the Palme D'or, but does he really want it to be seen and loved only by a very small percentage of the population?Maybe he does and I am just stupid!

In the end, most of my friends (and by that I mean 90% of them) would hate this movie and walk out during the dinosaurs scenes, so I will not recommend them. I don't think you should see it either, unless you are a cinephile or love art in any form. Then maybe you should give a try!

Am I crazy? What did you think of it?

P.S. Just because I loved the cinematography and the posters are great, here are 2 more!


  1. Great write up Aziza. I agree with you completely about your friends. Mine would be the same. It is not a film I would want to recommend to anyone as it is such a polarising feature.

    Great work!! I have added you to my blogging rounds so will be commenting most days!! :-)

    Thanks for commenting on mine too :-)

  2. Thanks Scott for the comment and for adding me to your blogging rounds! I love your website!I think I have you on twitter, as well :) Have a nice day!

  3. Hey Aziza,

    I totally understand this reaction. It took me two views to appreciate the film. On the first I was blown away by the visuals and the sounds - the 'creation' sequence, for me, was amazing. On the second viewing, I became more emotionally involved and entered a trance as soon as the lights went down, only to awake when they came on. For me, that is special. I love the film, and I think if you let scenes turn over in your mind and think about the way it ended (it is important, I think) and the way the creation sequence ties into the narrative, you will find it rewarding, I hope :-) Nice write up as always.

  4. Like I said, Andy, I really admire what Terence Malick did, he is truly an artist and I love the cinematography, the direction (the creation sequence is beautifully made), but you have to admit that he doesn't put it out there in a simple, logical way. Maybe you are right, if I see it the second time, some thing may clarify, but I don't think I will give another try! I don't hate it, but I don't love it either! Just give me a couple more years of seeing movies and maybe i'll understand it then :)

  5. I think everyone experiences this film differently, so embrace how you felt and don't let anyone change your mind on it (not even me haha). Perhaps, if you revisit it again, you might like it more. Then again, you might not. The film is illogical and I find films that make you contemplate them to be the most rewarding. It's a unique and significant release, in that it has been so polarizing.

  6. When I saw this film back in summer, I was skeptical about it right at those momemts of viewing it. Then I kind of stopped thinking about it for a couple of days but later on it started affecting me. As I was preparing to write my review, I considered all ratings between 2 and 5 stars; it's very unusual for me. I had come to an honest conclusion that this film is a masterpiece; it's beautiful and eloquent. Probably the only thing that I still don't like right now is that it's rather preachy. However, I can't wait to get it on dvd and experience it once again.

    You're right; the cinematography was amazing. And I thought that music was fantastically used.

  7. Just like you I agree that a lot of people won't like this movie. Some of the images were beautiful, but as a whole it bored me quite a bit.

  8. I pretty much agree with everything Andy said (surprise, surprise). In my original review of the film I said that, maybe, the film isn’t to be fully understood. That may sound like a cop out, but I don’t think everything in a film needs to have a solidified reason or purpose. Malick is totally atmospheric (in my opinion), and I’m not quite sure atmosphere can ever be fully realized.

    At any rate, your review is extremely well written and your points are validly made. If you’re still curious, you should let it sit and revisit it in a few weeks.
    My good friend (whose movie opinions I trust) HATED this flick when he first saw it. Now it’s his favorite of 2011. Weird.

    Have you seen other Malick films?
    I love them all, but The Thin Red Line knocks the wind out of me everytime.

  9. This movie is such a mistery for me!I tried to explain it to a good friend of mine yesterday and I couldn't really say if I hated or loved it, it's getting a little frustrating!I will see how it goes!
    As for the other Terence Malick movies,no, I haven't seen them, but I will try to see Thin Red Line this weekend!Thanks Alex!

  10. your review makes me even more positive that I am going to have to check out this film.

  11. Glad you liked it!Thanks for dropping by!