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The Tree of Life More at IMDbPro »

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34 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

If you want to see the world differently, go volunteer for 2 hours someplace

1/10
Author: kylere from United States
19 September 2011

This movie is rather pretty, but it does not matter if you watch it with or without sound. The actors are not relevant, they could be any level of actor from junior high musical on. The best things to compare this movies with are "The Fountain (2006)" and any poor 60's flick with random screen images or the light show from a bad Pink Floyd tribute act. I get that it tries to be pretentiously high-brow, I understand that it wants to be different. I value that it was not directed towards Joe Sixpack. With all that in mind it is full, pretty fluff that goes nowhere.

Style over Substance, imagery over story, and a waste of time.

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36 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

An idiotic film!

1/10
Author: elvisypi from London
24 August 2011

Where can i start from.I can't see how some people find it profound.It's just meaningless.This is a badly made up film, which tries to get on your nerves all the time.I used to watch the reviews of the films in IMDb before a saw a film but now I'm afraid it's been manipulated too, by the nonsense cinematographic business.This film is made up by pieces of Discovery Channel and National Geographic and some seconds of acting.Sean Penn, who is an actor i used to admire appears only one minute.In the end of the film you won't understand anything.There is a chatholic family which lives happily and then i guess one child dies.After that there are about 40 minuted of Discorery channel and some stupid media player visualizations.The soundtrack is made of church music which is unbearable and once in a while the woman says a word "god bless you, god loves you....".Then there are some short film fragment without any sense, and in the end i guess it shows heaven.So, if they wanted to make a deep movie i guess they sank in it.I regret watching it and pity the actors which took part in it.I can't see anything good in this film.Please spare yourselves a headache, don't watch it.

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50 out of 95 people found the following review useful:

Such a promising plot and such a disappointment.

6/10
Author: auberus from Lomé
26 May 2011

Tree of Life is an interesting experiment, some kind of a visual blend. It is a period film centered around a Family in the 1950s. The film depict a crucial time in Life of a boy (the eldest son), who witnesses the loss of innocence and the lack of control over his deepest feelings triggered it seems by the arrival of his new born brother.

But Tree of Life is also a variation over the meaning of Life and Death alternating between a cosmic vision of Life and a subjective and often poetic vision of childhood as an aphorism for Grace, Nature and Love.

The films then introduces the unbearable Death, the one that can't be explain the one that shakes the very balance of a Family, the Death of a son of a brother as we learn that the second born died suddenly at the age of 19 (probably at War).

However the genuine narration and enigmatic if not poetic vision of the cosmos mixed with state of the heart but virtual shots depicting how Life started (the way of Nature) makes for a slide-show of boredom. And as we move along the story of this family seems more and more like a "collage" exercise, some kind of a pretext to voice over cosmic images philosophical questions from our main tree protagonists (The Mother, the elder son and the Father). The result is messy and at times superficial.

In this blend of images and emotions actors aren't use to deliver an acting performance but more so to make the philosophical questioning move along. The problem is the questioning stagnates and closure never really gets through. Even if we understand that the border between Life and Death is as thin as a bank of sand between two seas on which we may meet sometimes, the audience is left with the same Belief before entering the Theater. Eventually you remain the same before and after the movie. You don't feel any more comfort, tranquility, clarity or even sadness. You've just seen beautiful shots.

Soaked with Christian Philosophy Tree of Life delivers as a very well shot film but never provides the audience with a sense of progression and closure. The story of this Family never really takes off nor does the Philosophic Questioning gets to an end.

At posteriori Tree of Life seems like an audacious idea on paper and lays out good material to explore. However the film ends up resembling a nice slide-show with little to no story, which makes me wander if cinema was the best medium for this cosmic Tale.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A peculiar slice of life film.

8/10
Author: PopCulturedwithMovieMike from United States
29 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a fan of Terrence Malick's work. I hated the Thin Red Line. The film seemed like it was all over the place and I just could not get into it. The New World is an exercise in patience. The film is so slow and plodding that I questioned my love for cinema after the credits were rolling.

So as you can see, I was a little hesitant about watching The Tree of Life. Mix in the reports of dinosaurs and the creation of the universe and I was really on the fence about seeing it. Then the movie got good reviews and started popping up on a bunch of "best of 2010 lists." Needless to say, I now had to see the movie and I'm glad I did because The Tree of Life is a unique film experience that cannot be duplicated.

The Tree of Life is not so much a movie as it is a series of images and ideas. The plot is thin, especially in the beginning of the film. We don't really start to get to know the characters until about half way through the movie. There are really only three characters that the film follows. The father, played by Brad Pitt, who can be extremely strict (especially with his oldest son) but also very loving at times. The oldest son Jack, played by Sean Penn when he is older. Jack is just coming of age and struggling with numerous emotional feelings. He's constantly being verbally abused by his father and lashing out at the rest of his family because of it. Then there is the mother, played by Jessica Chastain, who is a free spirited, fun loving woman who is often seen showing her children affection. She is the polar opposite of her husband. She also seems to be very close to the Earth and all of the living things that inhabit it, which is a common theme throughout the film.

Jessica Chastain's character is the one I identified with the most. I found her story to be the most inspiring and interesting part of the film. Jessica Chastain also happens to be my summer celebrity crush. After seeing her in The Help, I was instantly drawn to her. She's even more magnetic in the Tree of Life. She's an extremely beautiful woman and some of the photography in the film literally makes it impossible for the viewer to take their eyes off of her. Her face is so expressive that you can really feel what she's going through in every scene. Chastain is a true star and I can't wait to see where her career goes from here.

Perhaps the most talked about part of the film is the creation sequence. It's a little drawn out and, I admit it, more than a little odd, but it worked for me. I'm the kind of person that often reflects on the creation of the Earth and how everything came to be. I think Malick is trying to show us that our lives on Earth is so fleeting. In the grand scheme of things, we are really only here for a small fragment in time. This is something else that I think about a lot. How we have to make the best of life and enjoy it as much as possible because we really aren't here for very long.

What impressed me most about The Tree of Life is the cinematography. It's some of the best work I've seen in years.

With all that being said, The Tree of Life is not for everybody. I couldn't recommend this movie to most people and, to be honest, I don't know if I would ever feel compelled to watch it again. I think my main problem with it, and it's one of the problems I have with a lot of Malick's films, is that there are many scenes that just come off as entirely pretentious. I could understand if some people wrote the whole movie off as that, but there are a lot of important themes going on here. Different viewers will find different themes that impact them more. It truly is a subjective film.

The Tree of Life is unlike any film I've ever seen. That doesn't make it great, but it also doesn't make it bad. It's not the cinematic masterpiece some would make it out to be, but it also shouldn't be dismissed as artsy trash. I think the best thing I can say about The Tree of Life is that hours after the film finished, I was still thinking about it. Even when I woke up this morning, some of the images and themes were still running through my head. For me, that's enough to make it a film that was worth seeing.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Guided Dreaming

9/10
Author: kurosawakira from Onomichi, 1953
8 January 2014

In the words of Jorge Luis Borges, "literature is naught but guided dreaming". I like to think similarly of cinema: a stream of images and sounds delving deep into our dreams.

Films become most personal when their images become ours. They speak to us in ways that are beyond words, that somehow feel familiar and still penetrating deeper into ourselves, perhaps revealing things of ourselves. These films allow reflection, and indeed they seem to be completely taking place in the viewer's mind, the images a kind of catalyst for solitary meditation.

Malick has always made these kinds of films, and this is a marvellous dream indeed. Its depiction of childhood, with all its clarity, opaqueness, distance and inexplicably environing sense of intimacy were a revelation, and still continue to be. I have seen this about six times since then, and it won't leave me be, instead constantly pulling me towards it.

There's added significance in that I too have seen death in my youth; and I am a father of three, and in fact a teacher by occupation, so I'm constantly working with children (by which I'm not directly referring to my colleagues). There's something very acutely spot-on in the description of the chasm between the two proposed world-views of the film, and how they steer our way in the river of life.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Amazing Or Terrible You Decide

7/10
Author: ThreeGuysOneMovie from United States
3 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have been sitting on this film for 2 and ½ weeks and still cannot figure out how I want to go about my review, so instead of letting a difficult task waste away I am going to forge forward. In the 17 days that I have been thinking about this film I have had several contrasting thoughts but what it comes down to truly is, did I like this film? My answer to that is I still do not know how I feel about the film but I will try to express my thoughts as clear as I can.

The Tree of Life follows a family from the beginning to the end. By beginning I do not mean from start of their union as a family, I mean from the Earths creation. Big bang, cell division, dinosaurs, evolution, you catch my drift? So imagine you are sitting there watching a movie about a family and all of a sudden the television turns you to a channel airing Walking With Dinosaurs, Carl Sagan's Cosmos and Through the Wormhole but you have an inability to change the channel. Then after about 40 minutes of that you beam back to the movie you were watching about a family and you say to yourself, "wow, it almost seems like they were connected." Welcome to the world of Malick and his film The Tree of Life.

As a movie it lacked dialogue, direction, and continuity so if you wanted to see something engaging on tangible level this film will anger you, but you should have known that going in, Malick does not care what you think, nor should he. His movies are never to please an audience but to try to stop himself from cutting his own ear off, it is a release for him, not for you or me.

As a work of art it was beautifully shot, thought-provoking and spiritual, so if you wanted to be engaged in an intangible tour of a man's psyche with picturesque visions and dreamlike shots of life that kind of go together but often veer off like the mind of a toddler then this film will blow you away.

I am no Malick aficionado; I have seen Badlands which I loved and A Thin Red Line which I also loved but have yet to see Days of Heaven, his most critically acclaimed film, and his 2005 film The New World. What I do know or think is that Malick's films are often more about the art than the content, more about a vision than a message, and more about himself than the audience.

The Tree of Life is a film that asks the questions but does not have the answers; there are no real beginnings or ends, just a myriad of themes beautifully shot within the journey of a family, from creation to death. It is not going to be for everyone but then again it was not meant for everyone.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Visionary and innovative. Extraordinary.

9/10
Author: sean73267326 from Ireland
14 April 2014

I find it ridiculous how many comments here decry this film for its apparent lack of narrative or conventional structure, though I guess it's not unpredictable. For some reason audiences don't seem to want to think anymore; when a film comes along that tries something that's not dedicated to formula, their minds reject it, and for some reason they criticize it before they try to understand it.

Let me say this: The Tree of Life isn't the easiest film ever, and I'm sure most (all?) of it went over my head, but it's certainly nowhere near as challenging as most people have. If you want challenging, go look at a Lars Von Trier or Werner Herzog film, where the difficulty stems from the subject and themes; places where this film is easier on the audience. Let the films eccentricities wash over you and you're left with and incredible and innovative piece of filmaking, with amazing visuals and thoughtful after effect.

The plot is about as simple as it gets (and not entirely absent, as some people have stated); three boys grow up with their parents in small-town Texas, focusing on their experiences, in particular those of Jack, whom we say several times as an adult too.

The way I see the films is that it's merely about life, in it's broadest sense; the creation of the universe and the birth of consciousness(as seen in the prehistoric flashbacks), and as consciousness as we know it, from childhood to adult life. The film isn't perfect at portraying this, but then I don't think any filmmaker would ever get it perfect; film is in many ways too narrow a format, and yet Mallick has come as close as I think possible and that's what makes the film such a joy to watch.

If you're going to see this film, think long and hard first. Think about the usual format for films and forget it. Disregard structure, existentialism (this film has a few out-there moments) and plot as you know it, as they're different here to accommodate its grand ambitions. Do these things and you should have a good time at the movies.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Tree of Grace. The Tree of Nature. The Tree of Life.

Author: CinemaClown
9 August 2013

Ambitious in scope, sublime in artistry, unprecedented in imagery, meditative in content & audacious in execution, The Tree of Life is an incredibly complex, provocative, symbolic, philosophical & visually arresting art-house feature that's destined to polarise its audience but for those who can patiently connect with it, it's gonna be an intimately personal & emotionally rewarding experience.

A radical examination of both the origin & meaning of life, The Tree of Life chronicles the life of O'Brien family's eldest son from his birth to adult years where he is still seeking answers to the purpose of his life & after a tragic incident, also begins to question the existence of faith. Interspersed within this narrative are images depicting the birth of the Universe & dawn of life on our planet.

Written & directed by Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven & The Thin Red Line), The Tree of Life is without a doubt his most ambitious, thought-provoking & divisive film to date. Brimming with Malick's sweeping cinematic vision & making effective use of his trademarks, it is also the most gorgeous looking film he or anyone has ever made for every frame of it is a masterwork of spellbinding art.

The screenplay deals with existential, religious & metaphysical themes but the whole story is simply a conflict between the two choices that life offers: the path of grace & the path of nature. Although the film is thoroughly refined in all technical aspects, where it sets an entirely new benchmark is in its breathtaking camera-work as its smartly chosen angles, expert use of natural light & ideal framing of shots are the very definition of perfection.

Editing is equally impressive as far as stitching those distinct images into one harmoniously unfolding sequence is concerned but when it comes to pacing, the film is all over the place. There are times when it gets repetitive, few moments despite the splendid imagery are too frustrating to sit through plus a slightly conventional & accessible narrative approach would have definitely benefited the film without lessening its desired impact.

Coming to the performances, the cast comprises of Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn & Hunter McCracken with Pitt & Chastain playing Mr. & Mrs. O'Brien respectively, with the father presenting the nature side of life while the mother is the epitome of grace. McCracken is excellent as O'Brien's eldest son & his struggle with his parents' conflicting teachings is utterly convincing while Sean Penn just wanders around like he has no idea of what's going on, a feeling I'm sure many of its detractors share.

As for me, I'm equally conflicted with this film. It deserves a full score for its jaw-dropping photography alone, is filled with moments that are snippets of my own childhood, & those segments dealing with the birth of universe n inception of life on Earth are undeniably my favourite segments. But then there's that philosophical rambling I simply didn't care about as well as those baffling final 15 minutes during which the film jumps into a full pretentious mode & I could finally see why many despise it. I don't blame them either.

On an overall scale, The Tree of Life is an aesthetic, artistic & extraordinary work of dazzling beauty that arguably has no comparisons. There are moments in it which make you go like it's the greatest achievement in cinema history but then there are also times when it evokes an entirely opposite response. An ode to life, a reflection on love & loss, and a strong reminder of the infinite smallness of mankind against the grand schemes of the Universe, Terrence Malick's magnum opus is cinema at its most spiritual that comes recommended with multiple viewings advised.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

No need to rant - just walk out if you don't like it!

8/10
Author: basilisksamuk (sam.salt@gmail.com) from United Kingdom
2 July 2012

Let's get the Kubrick comparison out of the way first. Many people admire Kubrick as a director but I'm not one of them. I think he has brilliant passages in some of his movies but he seldom sustains the quality over a full film. As I young man I admired 2001 because I was into the space race and because it had trippy visuals; today I find it virtually unwatchable. In fact my reaction to 2001 is rather like many people's reaction to The Tree of Life – despite some arresting visuals it's boring and has nothing to say.

To those who have found it necessary to tell us at length what a boring and tedious waste of time The Tree of Life is and that they found it personally offensive I have a simple question - Why did you watch it to the end? You could have left the cinema or turned off the TV anytime you liked. I know I do. It saves wasting brain space and is a more rational response to not liking something than persevering with it. I think Dogville was probably an awful film, even though I've liked other Von Trier films, but I'm not certain because I bailed out early on. It wasn't for me.

The Tree of Life is an interesting film on several levels. Firstly it's what I would call "pure film" in that the visuals and the flow are more about using the medium to create an effect rather than to drive a narrative forward. The visuals and the sound design are beautiful. I was going to say the pace of the film was difficult to get into but on reflection I realised my attention was held throughout, with one exception I discuss below, and I had a smile on my face from beginning to end. Interpretation is always tricky given that it's up to the viewer to interpret once a work has been created, but I took it to be about the contrast between Grace and Nature. I'm not a Christian so the biblical aspects didn't wholly interest me although you can see the parallels with any religious or spiritual perspective. I don't think I'd completely agree with Malick's intended meaning either but that doesn't matter to me. His views, as far as I understand them, are interesting and the fact that they lead into a debate makes them even more so.

My one reservation is the length of the main section (after Life, the Universe and Everything) following the lives of the family and effect of the parents on the boys. It was, for me, too long and I would have liked to have seen perhaps twenty minutes taken out of this sequence. I'd got the point, accessed the emotions and understood the purpose well enough without being beaten over the head with it well before we got to the last act.

So not a perfect film in my mind but a great one certainly. I rate The New World as Malick's true masterpiece but The Tree of Life as a great film but with some flaws. It isn't Kubrick who I am reminded of when I watch a Malick film but David Lynch.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

It is a prayer

10/10
Author: djansen24 from Germany
31 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is a prayer. It is a heart's cry out to God. How does one film such a concept? Terrance Malik tries his darndest and comes up with something that is visually flawless, emotionally compelling, and pretty near perfect.

It is very helpful to have read a synopsis review of this film before seeing it. I had, and so was expecting a non-linear (to say the least), impressionistic, film who emphasis was on images evoking emotions rather than on concrete narrative. Had I not read a review or 2 beforehand, I might have gotten lost at first. Hard to say. The film strikes a two-fold chord. On the one hand, it requires a lot of the viewer to assimilate the images and to understand what time period one is in. If you let your concentration slip, you might be asking "What's going on now?" But at the same time, the film is so soothing that you can actually relax and let the stunning imagery wash over you.

Several points are made. First and foremost, it is a prayer of the three lead characters as they seek to understand God in a world that can sometimes be cruel. Second, it is an analysis of living by "grace" versus living by "nature". Grace being defined as grateful in all circumstances, other-centric, seeing the love and wonder of the created universe. Nature being defined as the polar opposite. The mother represents the former and the father the latter (although he makes a change). However, the film shows their living out of grace and nature in a perfectly normal way, so that one could actually imagine real people living as they do. And lastly, the film explores the creation of the universe and the living out of it until the end of time. This is done from a distinctly Biblical point of view. Christianity is the underlying metaphor, with a quote from the book of Job as an underlying message.

What a majestic movie! It resonated very deeply with me as a Christian. It is hauntingly universal in the emotions it evokes and it captures the struggles one has while praying as well as the deliverance one receives through prayer. It shows resolutely the providence of God, the creator of all things, who orchestrates creation beautifully (the choral music during those scenes represents this excellently) even though from our limited perspective we may see only the chaotic side of nature. This movie will no doubt anger hardened "new-atheists". But then again, their opinion of a closed world view of life that excludes the unseen spiritual world is opinion. If you are such a person, I encourage you to see the film, if nothing else to understand why a person of faith can see God in the greater tapestry of life.

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