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The Tree of Life More at IMDbPro »

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:


Author: Davis Jordan from United States
11 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To start off, if this is not the most beautiful film ever shot, is very high on the list. Every single shot in this entire film had my eyes glued onto it and my jaw dropped a few times. The story was confusing at parts, but a lot of the people who have negative feelings toward the film came in expecting a very upfront the story. The story is extremely compelling despite the way parts are told. It's simply the story of a boy falling from his grace, and becoming more like his father, even though he doe not understand why entirely. The film does an excellent job capturing the confusion and the discomfort in growing up, for example in the scene in which they send the frog on a firework. Obviously, not everyone did this exact thing, but it shows the way that the character is trying to find his way in the world and learn who he is. Not only was the story very compelling, but the score was incredible. Between the combination of the music and the shots, this movie was extremely intriguing and fascinating to watch. I give this movie a solid 9.2 out of ten.

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30 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Worst "movie" I've ever seen in my life.

Author: ravenosa from United States
4 September 2011

"Tree of Life" was a very depressing experience for me. I'm a passionate movie geek, always looking for a film to move and inspire me. After sitting through 50 minutes of "Tree of Life" I couldn't help but feel that the fast food nation I live in will never be as artistically relevant as the rest of the world. Where Russian and German directors can put together profound film experiences for the viewer, this was just an embarrassing, failed experiment.

The one thing I've had to wonder after watching some of "Tree of Life" was; would a bunch of monkeys armed with cameras capture less compelling material? The heavy handed "artyness" of the camera movement was anything but fluid or effective. It actually made the presence of the cameraman felt, completely taking me out of the film. The fact the actors were playing archetypes instead of actual people didn't help much. Lack of narrative completely killed any potential for the film. The interspersed Natural Geographic shots bordered on comical. Would be kind of funny to think if every director of family dramas tried so hard to be profound.

I couldn't help but feel bad for Sean Penn, especially reading his comments after he saw the final product. What a waste of his time and talent. He's always created an actual character with human traits, in "Tree" he's a prop in a music video. Nothing more. Though, the same can pretty much be said for all of the human props in the film.

I do think there's a sad, ironic justice in "Tree of Life". Everywhere across the continent there are filmmakers experimenting in different ways to affect the viewer. Here in Michael Bay's McAmerica we get a bloated, two hour music video directed by Hallmark and try to label it as "art".

Makes me realize how small and irrelevant we are in the big picture, as an American... As a Stanley Kubrick fan, I can't help but feel a bit sad and sick to think of how far the art of film has fallen. I'll never give Malick another second of my time.

Oh man, I didn't even mention the whispering or the random, arbitrary shots of nature. Why bother, watch the trailer. It's more effective than the actual film and tells the exact same "story"...

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298 out of 590 people found the following review useful:

its not about saving your money, its about saving your life

Author: jmg-90-179895 from United States
25 June 2011

go to you-tube find a video of beautiful images from the world. Play some ridiculous opera music. open a bible and start reading random lines for two and a half hours. now if anyone asks if you have seen this movie you can say YES. I sat threw the entire thing somehow even though my gut was telling me to leave the entire time. The first 30 minuets had no useful dialog to a movie that had no plot/point. Somehow this movie got good reviews which is the only part of the movie that made me think. I though, am I just not getting it, is this movie above me? No it's not. movie critics are for some reason afraid to give bad reviews to a movie like this that is supposed to be "artsy" and supposed to make you think. they leave there bad reviews for "stupid" movies like vampires suck or hot chick. All they're doing is playing it safe, saying if i give this a bad review and others give it good reviews will people think I am dumb, that i don't understand this movie. well there is nothing to understand about this movie. it sucks. its plain and simple a terrible movie. a waste of your life. There is nothing good about it trust me there is a reason that people who are not movie critics are giving this a 1 out of 10 hell i would give this a 0 out of ten if i could... its not about saving your money its about saving 2 hours of your life. Trust me Don't SEE THIS MOVIE.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

This is not a movie: so WHAT is it?

Author: Cinegrahamcracker from United States
9 July 2012

THIS is a guided search through the experiences of life toward a restoration of faith, forgiveness, and perhaps, self-acceptance. But it is NOT pedantic. Malick seems to specialize in recreating the experiences in the viewer through the combination of image, sound, and story. I wonder if he would mind if I said that he is our "Hemingway" of film. He doesn't really waste a lot of time preaching at us, but rather letting us "feel" the story at core through the direct access he gives us to the characters through their actions and their literal perspective of the world. If you need to give a good book 50 pages to sink into you: you also must practice patience with this film during some of the more "abstract" scenes.

This is not a "fast-food" film: this is a FEAST.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Unless you love.

Author: bosejiu from London
5 January 2013

I remember seeing that film for the very first time. I confirmed myself in the belief that it's love-it-or-fall-asleep film, just like Tarkovsky's "Stalker" or pretty much anything by Bergman. The film seemed like a never-ending bore and clearly something was missing. Or rather, I have missed something. I've watched with great appreciation dozens of "artistic-deep-never-ending" films, and I felt cheated, since this one had promised so much.

That was before. Then I lost someone I loved, someone my life depended on. For the first two months or so I wasn't ready to watch any film. Yet, this one was the first I watched. Then I knew that one needs certain experience to comprehend it's two-hour long beauty. Suddenly nearly every moment of this previously unattractive film became important. Every whisper, every sound and every scene meaningful. It's pure beauty: the birds flocking and dispersing on a dead silent sky, galactic imaginary, creation of the world accompanied by Mozart's Lacrimosa (by maestro Preisner)...and a multitude of previously unnoticed details. And the main theme is just like T.S.Eliot wrote: "We die with the dying: See, they depart, and we go with them.". The characters - father, mother, son - all are departed. Staring into emptiness, stunned, for they can't deal with the loss, for they have also lost part of themselves. For me "The Tree of Life" is a picture of spiritual desolation, of our fall, of our doubt, ultimate loneliness in our existential condition, and of our struggle. "World has gone to the dogs" and buzzing silence - that's how one feels dealing with a dead-blow loss - resignated and stunned. Later comes the great search for meaning, just like in Frankl's book about Auschwitz survivors, one has to build, fill the gap somehow. Malick chose God.

Malick's "The Tree of Life" is a difficult picture and not readily available for everyone (bless you the fortunate ones). It's also beautiful and deep, especially for those who experienced the bitter taste of life, or rather – of death. And there is one more human theme - love. Love and death always march together. That's our greatest tragedy - we have to love what is mortal, depend on it, and one day let it depart (just like Mary Oliver wrote). That's the price to pay for meaning and happiness on this planet, it's a pact with the devil - unfair and inhuman, yet seems to be our only choice. Otherwise, it's a life-time of doubt and emptiness..."unless you love".

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Another (near) masterpiece from Malick

Author: Roland E. Zwick ( from United States
8 July 2012

Few directors have as instinctive a flair for the art of cinema as Terrance Malick, who is such a perfectionist about his work that he's managed to crank out a mere five feature films in his four decades as a filmmaker. His films are like glorious odes to nature, much in the tradition of Wordsworth and Coleridge - only, in this age of modern technology, he uses images rather than words. He makes us see the world from a whole new perspective, employing cinematography and music in much the same way as an impressionist uses paint on a canvas.

Watching a Malick film - to mix up our metaphors a bit - is a bit like sitting at the edge of the ocean, as wave after wave of indescribably beautiful images washes over you and eventually carries you out to sea. It really is an experience unlike any other that one can get at the movies.

His latest work "The Tree of Life" is clearly his magnum opus, the culmination of his career-long obsession with the beauty of nature and mankind's relation to it. It is also his most overt dissertation to date on the random nature of the universe, as it chronicles a family's struggle to come to grips with the sudden death of their 19-year-old son and brother, R.L.

The majority of the film takes place in Waco, Texas in the 1950s, where Jack and his two younger brothers, R.L. and Steve, are experiencing a childhood very similar to that of many middle-class Americans of the time. In fact, when it isn't busy being metaphysical and exploring the mysteries of the universe, "The Tree of Life" provides a searing look into suburban family life during that time period. Indeed, even though the characters don't say much to one another throughout the course of the movie - most of the words come in the form of voice-over narration - each still manages to become a fully realized individual in his or her own right, a character very much of that time but also universal in scope.

Mr. O'Brien (Brad Pitt), for instance, is a rather archetypal father figure of the 1950s - an emotionally aloof disciplinarian who finds it so hard to express his feelings for his boys that at one point Jack finds himself wishing for his own father's death. Yet, O'Brien still displays those rare moments of tenderness that reveal the caring and loving individual that resides at his core. O'Brien is also struggling with the fact that he has never achieved his dreams either as a musician or as a successful inventor. This leads to a sense of bitterness and a kill-or-be-killed ethos that not only defines his own life but is the major value he wants to instill in his boys.

Mrs. O'Brien (Jessica Chastain) is also a fairly typical 1950s housewife - a generally passive woman utterly consumed with raising her family and defending her boys against the frequent outbursts her husband throws at them. In a way, she is the yin to Mr. O'Brien's yang, a woman filled with the virtues of understanding and nurturing, who balances out the unyielding rigidness of her husband and gives her sons an alternative path to follow in life.

Jack is also a highly complex character, a naturally curious, strong-willed and contemplative young boy who wants desperately to do the right thing but often feels unable to do it. His strong moral code is frequently at odds with his penchant for mischief and, like all children who are just finding their way, he often chooses the wrong path to go down. Indeed, the film provides one of the most realistic depictions of childhood I have seen in a long while, capturing the wonderment, fear and sense of exploration that defines that period in life.

Sean Penn, in a much smaller role, plays the adult version of Jack, who, even in the present day, is trying to come to grips with his little brother's untimely death. But it is Hunter McCracken as the young Jack who brings the film to life and makes us care about the character.

As with any Malick film, "The Tree of Life" derives a tremendous amount of its greatness from its camera-work and sound and, true to form, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and composer Alexandre Desplat provide their customary miracles here. No other movie quite looks like a Malick film, with its smooth-flowing tracking shots - many following a character from behind - its intimate close-up shots of nature, and its haunting, painterly landscapes. For this film, Malick has added several scenes depicting the formation of the earth, the evolution of life and the destruction of the planet - all to illustrate the we're-all-interconnected, circle-of-life theme that resides at the movie's core.

Yet while "The Tree of Life" is certainly Malick's most ambitious work to date, is it also his finest? I really don't think so. Even though it is completely mesmerizing as a work of pure cinema - few other directors could even touch it - it exudes a certain self-congratulatory pretentiousness that is missing from what I think are his best films, "Badlands" and "The New World," which feel more organic and natural. In a sense, it's trying so hard to be great - hardly a commonplace sin in American movie-making - that it actually feels a little off-putting and desperate at times. Genuine masterpieces - which I believe "Badlands" and "The New World" to be - generally don't have to work so hard at being masterpieces.

But then again, in this day and age of formulaic and soulless commercial movie-making, we'll take a near-masterpiece any time we can get one.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

A Visual Poetry!!!!

Author: samdaniell from India
9 October 2012

Most of the people I've met, have the opinion that a book is far better than a movie. Some even claim that certain movies will be better on paper than on Screen. If anyone ever claims like that... They Should watch this movie.

By far one of the best movies of 2011 and also one of the Best of director Terrence Malick, who also wrote this. The Tree of Life opens with the death of Mr. & Mrs. O'Brien's second child in 1970s. The focus then shifts on to their elder son Jack in present times who starts to think about his childhood on seeing a tree in front of a Building. Thats when the real journey of the movie begins...a journey that cannot be put down in words... but has to be experienced Visually!!! The visual journey is seen through the eyes of renowned Cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, who gives one of the best cinematographic work of his career. The movie is a Visual narration with minimal dialogues, which completely rested on the shoulders of the Dirctor and the Cinematographer. Although actors had only little to do, everyone did the best the could. Brad Pitt plays the role of Mr. O'Brien very convincingly. But its Jessica Chastain (as Mrs. O'Brien) and Hunter McCracken (as Young Jack) who steals the limelight. Although Jessica did earn an Oscar nomination for her role in The Help, she truly deserved that nomination for this movie. Hunter McCracken has done an equally brilliant job which is also his debut movie!!! But the true disappointment was Sean Penn (as Older Jack). He did not have anything to do in this movie other than his presence. He was truly wasted. The other technical aspects of the move was really brilliant... Especially the Background Score Alexandre Desplat is also Amazing.

In short, this movie is not meant for those who like senseless Action or Stupid Romance movies. This is one of those rare movies where the Viewer, not only has to watch the movie but also think deeper into it!!!!

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25 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Plot? What plot?

Author: skleid from United States
13 November 2011

I've always believed the conventional wisdom that "Plan 9 From Outer Space" was the worst movie ever made -- until I saw "Tree of Life." "Plan 9" was ridiculous, but at least it had a (silly) plot and was laughable. "Tree of Life," on the other hand, is ostentatious, pretentious and incredibly dull. It consists of short scenes -- one after another -- which don't seem to have anything to do with each other. Also, practically no dialogue in the film. In other words, as I said, incredibly dull. Near the end of the movie there was a scene of a horde of people walking -- for no apparent reason -- slowly into the ocean. They should have kept on going...

By the way, I just noticed that most of the reviews of this film are either "Oh my God, how wonderful!" or "Oh my God, what garbage!" Personally, I found the reviews much more interesting than the movie.

Many years ago I went to an art show, and stood in front of a large canvas that had been awarded a blue ribbon. It was painted completely black, from edge to edge. I suspect the judges thought it was a deep expression of (what?), but I've always thought that art should be a picture of something. Same thing with a movie. I think it should tell a story. I know there are some film makers who want to express their "artistic abilities," without resorting to crass story telling, but when I have to pay to see a film I expect it to tell a story. I would like it to evoke an emotion in me -- besides boredom.

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33 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Maybe over pretentious... certainly slow...

Author: Jose Guilherme from Brazil
1 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really want to like this movie. Its almost the new "2001" at times with visually stunning scenes... yet lacking in a stronger story. Some very good acting...

Yes, it will bring childhood memories (of boys for sure)... and family... but when the film finished I was just numb... of going through such a long movie.

So be aware before watching that it is slow and long. That it has some spiritual tones... if you are warned before it might be better. Its not a popcorn movie for sure... and from the comments in the IMDb it does work for many. It just didn't touch me sufficiently.

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34 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

A whole lot of nothing!

Author: Perry Bee from On a distant star
19 September 2011

Here we go again, good cast, interesting storyline but again just brain numbing Hollywood rubbish. What green plant were the producers/directors smoking before/during and after the making of this film? damn I would love to know cause I would want to smoke some of it! This film is just an exercise of photography, nothing more. The story line, if any is not there at any time, it is all over the place. Sure it looks great, but I need something more than just a great looking blond with long legs, I have an IQ that needs to be entertained when it comes to watching a film, and not some Hollywood rubbish take on how life became, is or might be, with other words this film looks really really nice, some really great shots of nature, the universe, but it lost me with in 20 minutes.

I can only give this pile of rubbish a 1 out of 10, it is a rip off, just another weird ass film with no real meaning, you are better of watching some nature documentary.

IN the running for rubbish of the year!

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