2 July 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Tree of Life" (2011)

My expectations for The Tree of Life were quite high: first, because of the cast (however, Sean Penn only has a strange supporting role that seems to go nowhere..); second, because of the cinematography as seen in the awesome trailer; and third, because the movie won the palme d’or in Cannes!

Well these expectations turned out to be too high, whatsoever. The first 15 minutes of the movie leave you wanting to know what’s going on while the non-linear narrative is anything but helpful either! However, what follows is another 15 minutes of puzzling impressions, as we get to see pictures from outer space, strange galaxies, great waterfalls and… dinosaurs.. yes dinosaurs. 

Half an hour passes by leaving the audience quite bewildered by what they’d just seen. However, let me jump to the positive aspects of the movie: After the somehow failed first 30 minutes follows a story of a suburban family in the 1950s and the problems they have to deal with, seen from the perspective of an about 12-year-old child. 
The cinematography is nothing but stunning, every single shot is beautiful. The acting ensemble is fantastic, with Brad Pitt and newcomer Jessica Chastain as his wife acting very commitedly. There are also superb perfomances by their three sons. The story itself is quite depressing at some point, but also very realistic. What’s strongly missing are dialogues to bring us closer to the characters. There is very little talk in the movie, of course intended by director Terrence Mallick, but some dialogues and a bit less of whispered narration by some of the characters would have helped the movie to connect with the audience.

Unfortunately, the spiritual and fantasy-like narrative somehow ruins the ending  where Sean Penn has his  appearance. The audience is bound to make up their minds about what’s going on once again. Were the movie a bit shorter, we would maybe be up for it; after two hours of hardly any talking, however, the ending should not be that confusing.

All in all, the middle part of the movie is the main part, making it an appealing and intriguing watch with simply fantastic shots of the beautiful sets and brilliant acting performances, however with the beginning and the ending somehow failing and the missing dialogues you cannot but ask yourself why exactly it received the palme d’or.

photo sources: [moviesonyouko.com], [filmbabble.blogspot.com], [armchairc.blogspot.com] & [at.abinskino.com]

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