Tree of Life Review
This film attempts to push the boundaries of cinema to bridge the gap between movie making and art. This is apparent right off the bat with the whispering voice on top of a screen filled with nothing but the colorful sound wave design seemingly created by windows media player.After this, characters are distantly introduced and a child dies. An abrupt change from the 1950s to some time in the more present future presents the character of Sean Penn and the meaning behind the movie is pretty clear.We will be exploring the reflections of Sean Penn's character on his childhood leading up to the death of his brother.
Boom. Cut.30+ minute accidental splicing of planet earth footage. Ok, its trying to show the creation of earth and life on this planet. Maybe even exploring the notion of a higher power that brings all of this into being.Seemed completely disconnected from the rest of the film, but even if the director deemed them necessary, less than 5 minutes of these scenes would have accomplished the same goal.
After a long time, we are brought back to the characters we met at the beginning, only it is ~10 years earlier. Babies start popping out. We are taken through the adolescent years of three young boys focusing mainly on two. It does a great job at taking these clips in such a way that it seems like memories and indeed forces the audience to recall similar instances in their childhood. It focuses less on simple emotions of happiness or sorrow, but instead dwells on frustration and guilt.Brad Pitt does an excellent job as the overworked father taking out his workday stresses on his family especially the eldest son. Sean Penn's character is a waste of an actor largely due to the directors apparent dislike for dialogue.This film is not about the characters though, but instead the emotions that these characters are feeling and relating those feelings to ones own life.
After a random walk chase through the desert, the film concludes with the family reuniting on the heavenly beach.Sean Penn's character is combined with his younger self while the rest of the family is stuck in the same age the were for the rest of the movie.
The story line and message are quite simple. There is no plot to speak of, but that is on purpose. The goal of this movie is the emotions perceived by the viewer, which it does remarkably at times. The filming and editing are also quite fantastic.
Those who went into the movie hoping and expecting for this to be the most remarkable films ever made will indeed feel that way and it will leave them in tears in the seat next to you. The rest will wonder what they didn't get. This appears to be a movie that people have either loved or hated. I take it as what it was...interesting. It certainly evokes opinions from viewers, good or bad. What I do admire is that the director obviously has no qualms with whether or not his entire audience is captivated. Unfortunately I don't think this will become a game changer and will be soon forgotten. Worth a watch, keep an open mind.