The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life


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.... More

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)Hide

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Flicks Review

“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.... More

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.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 13 ratings, 13 reviews
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Truly a work of art.

BY freshdude superstar

If you have read a few reviews of this film you would have guessed you'd either love or hate it, either way you'll have a strong reaction.

I just had a look at FLICKS viewers reviews, and find it amusing that all the bad reviews are from people who don't or hardly ever review films, and the good ones are from obvious movie fanatics with numerous reviews under their belt ... I think this speaks for itself, really.

This film is philosophical. This film is not to be watched on a small screen.... More This film is simply a unique masterpiece, even if Joe Blogg does not "get it" !Hide

If you surrender to 'Tree of Life' as a slow, meandering, meditation on, well, life, then you're in for a visual, audio and cerebal treat. Like Terrence Malick's 'The Thin Red Line' though - if you go in expecting a traditional linear narrative or Hollywood's standard big screen fare - you're gonna find this pretentious and dull. For me? It's 'Koyaanisquatsi' with movie stars. Think Kubrick's '2001' and Von Trier's 'Melancholia' and turn up, tune in and trip out...

BY Ken-Burns superstar

A visual gem. Not much dialogue but story is so told with pictures. I'll remember this for a long time

BY Zee grader

I'm not sure if I liked this Movie or not! The story line seemed to be non-existent with you feeling either completely bored or amazed (by the cinematography). It's worth a watch if you have a spare 3 hours :)

Showing 5 of 13 reviews. See all reviews

The Press Reviews

84% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • 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. Full Review

  • 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. Full Review

  • There is simply nothing like it out there: profound, idiosyncratic, complex, sincere and magical; a confirmation that cinema can aspire to art. 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. Full Review

  • 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. Full Review

  • 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. Full Review

  • Result is pure-grade art cinema destined primarily for the delectation of Malick partisans and adventurous arthouse-goers. Full Review

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