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Film Review: The Tree of Life (2011)
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stainsteelrat
The Tree of Life (2011). Written and directed by Terence Malick. The film is set in 1950s Texas, and starts with a mother (Jessica Chastain) receiving a telegram that her eldest son, aged 19, has died. That's about all I can give by way of an introduction, without giving too much away about the film. Likewise, it will be impossible to review this without some slight spoilers. Let me start by saying I don't have a specific problem with art films and/or mood pieces. I am a big fan of The Fountain which a large proportion of audiences will struggle with due to its confusing story and artistic emphasis. It was against the backdrop of generally good reviews that I assumed The Tree of Life would be much the same thing, but unfortunately it wasn't for me. Primarily it tells the story of a family with three children, with the father played by Brad Pitt. The story jumps about in time, but is mostly set when the eldest is a young teen, and then middle aged. These main segments of the story are often beautifully shot and the acting is great, albeit the wild camera moves and fisheye lenses get a bit tedious. The bulk of this core story is very depressing due to various family issues within the story. The film flips around, primarily at the start and end, between artistic imagery e.g. excellent CG dinosaurs, that although beautifully shot often has no obvious bearing on the core story. And that more or less is The Tree of Life, a depressing and slow paced story with some whisper-y voiceovers and often disconnected arty imagery. The philosophical ending, for lack of a better description, is clear but just left me cold. Several people walked out during the film, presumably due to the very slow pace. No doubt some film snobs and art students will get a kick out of it, and some people seem to connect with the childhood story in a way that I didn't. 1/5 (Awful)

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