Movie Review: The Tree of Life (2011)

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Drama
Tags: ,


Jack O’Brien (Hunter McCraken, Sean Penn) grows up in 1950’s America, with a strict, my way or the highway dad.   Mr. O’Brien(Brad Pitt) grows angrier, after the death of his middle son, RL (Laramie Eppler) in Vietnam. Jack’s sibling rivalry with RL and troubled relationship with his dad makes the guilt unbearable on Jack as an adult, reflecting back on his life.  How does adult Jack cope with memories of an angry father, and a mother (Jessica Chastain) who doted on her lost middle child?

This movie was everything I feared, pretentious, long, and boring.  There’s only one man to blame for this non-linear art-house nightmare and that is writer and director Terrence Malik.  Do you want to understand the meaning of life, from the beginning of time?  Worry not, Malik will provide a visual simulation for you.  There are snippets of value here, ruminations on religious questions worth pondering, but that is not the focus of the film, in fact the film has no focus, it’s just a self-congratulatory piece of celluloid, with Malik saying, look at how great a director I am.  It is a visually stunning movie, no doubt, but visuals with no central theme are disappointing.  The actors are not to blame here, they do their best,  wading through a muddled storyline.  Pitt, Chastain, and Penn, are fine in this movie in severely limited roles.  Penn is essentially wasted in this movie, and how much of an ego maniac do you have to be to underutilize Sean Penn? Ask Terrence Malik.

The Tree of Life:  Chop it down.


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