Tree Of Life Blu-Ray review
Terrence Malick does not like to be rushed. Held in high esteem for great films Days Of Heaven and The Thin Red Line, The Tree Of Life is only the fourth film for which he’s stood behind the camera in 33 years. That kind of output makes the Gran Turismo team look Usain Bolt-quick in comparison. Fortunately, he’s come back with a truly exceptional piece of work – albeit one that lapses into self-indulgence a little too often.
This isn’t a film for everyone. If you’re happiest in front of a Michael Bay flick, or regard anything with subtitles as you would an alien interloper, then steer clear. Despite the appearance of stars such as Pitt and Penn, this is not your catch-all blockbuster. It’s surreal and challenging – and downright inexplicable in places – but fortunately the whole that’s been created is a beautiful, touching and unique piece of cinema.
In essence it’s – and try not to do a little sick into your mouth here – a meditation on the nature and meaning of life. This is largely told through the story of one family’s life in ’50s Texas, with Chastain and Pitt (on phenomenal form) raising three young boys, while the latter tries to find success as an inventor.
Ruling through fear, Pitt’s a fierce disciplinarian – frustrated by his failures, demanding respect, but also fostering resentment in his kids. The emotional notes are intense and well-portrayed, mixing tenderness with explosive outpourings.
But it’s far from a traditional narrative, interspersed with the internal monologue of the eldest child, as well as flash-forwards to him as an adult (played by Penn). It’s also prefaced by an extraordinary opening 40 minutes, which are both unexpected and breathtakingly beautiful. They set out the questions that the film attempts to explore, such as the place of the individual within the universe.
This is no a lighthearted watch, and some of the footage goes beyond artistic and into pretentious. But it’s an incredibly rewarding experience for those who invest in it. Painful, uplifting, demoralising and exquisite all at once, it’s a one-of-a-kind work that deserves to be seen. Even if it’s just so you can tell people how much you hated it afterwards.