Friday, 10 June 2011

The Tree of Life

Image: Mr. O'Brien (Brad Pitt) and his son, in The Tree of Life. Courtesy of eOne Films

Writer/Dir: Terrence Malick (The New World, The Thin Red Line, Badlands)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Sean Penn, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan
USA, 2011

Reason to see: It's on my list of Most Anticipated Films of 2011 (#15)

I absolutely loved The Tree of Life. It's powerful, it's smart, it made me feel and it made me think. It almost made me cry. I'm actually surprized it didn't make me cry, actually. It likely will on repeat viewings, which I look forward to even though it's 2 hours and 18 minutes and often is in no hurry to get where it's going. It felt felt oddly optimistic and idealistic even though it was often a very dark journey. It seems so throwaway to set the setting stage of following a family in the 1950's including the parents (played by Brad Pitt & Jessica Chastain) and their three sons, but in calm sea of a wildly experiential film we do need an anchor so they are are our anchor. It is fair to say the film is about life, and it is about family but it's also plays like science fiction which is oddly unsettling with this 1950's family that feels so accessible and real.

The Tree of Life is a film where after I've recovered from the power experiential process of getting thought it, I want to call it 'smart SciFi', but that feels almost like a disservice for some reason, even though I'm a huge fan of science fiction, and likely will talk about this film during my Summer of SciFi Marathon. It is more comfortable, or perhaps safer, to call it spiritual but in all honesty it firmly feels like both to me. It's about the journey. It's experiential. And it's an extremely powerful film.

One of the things that makes it so powerful is that it is rich in it's visual depiction of complicated emotions. The film weighs on you with the emotional journeys of the characters, from their love to their neediness. From their hurt to their desire. From their pain and their sorrow. There is a lot of emotion here and it's so clear that it almost defies words. The cast brings this to life with their all around formidable performances from Brad Pitt & Jessica Chastain but I was particularly taken with Hunter McCracken who plays one of the sons. I also was blown away but the weight of Sean Penn's performance. They were all exceptional. The oddest thing for me about the film was seeing Brad Pitt playing a character that literally felt like the embodying my own grandfather (brown sweater and all!), but somehow that just continued to add to the beauty of the film.

The Tree of Life provides a truly rare and beautiful film going experience. It's a film where I can say with certainly I don't understand everything about it, and that is completely fine. In fact, I think it would be strange to not end up reflecting about the film for a long time after seeing it. It really stays with you. highly & widely recommend it. You do not want to miss experiencing this film. It's a Perfect Film.

The Tree of Life opens in the following cities across Canada:
Friday June 10, 2011 in Toronto
Friday June 17, 2011 in Vancouver, Montreal
Friday June 24, 2011 in Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Winnipeg
Friday July 1, 2011 in Ottawa

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it.
I can't wait to watch it again.
I highly and widely recommend it. It's a Perfect Film.

If you enjoyed The Tree of Life, I'd also recommend watching Mr. Nobody, Never Let Me Go and The Adjustment Bureau. For those feeling really adventurous, try Enter the Void.

Also see: All 2011 Films Reviewed, Most Anticipated Films of 2011 and All Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Image: Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain in THE TREE OF LIFE Courtesy of eOne Films

Image: Mrs. O'Brien (Jessica Chastain) with her two boys in The Tree of Life. Courtesy of eOne Films


Franco Macabro said...

So far, my favorite film of 2011. Just got through posting my review for it! I liked it so much, that I interrupted my Japanese themed month to talk about it. It was such a powerful and moving film!

Like you, I also found similarities with my own family life, specifically with my brothers and me, just like in the film, we are three brothers, and I lived through a lot of the situations depicted in the film. It just felt very genuine!

Polly said...

I loved it too. Described it as"You know how you come out of a movie and talk about that one beautiful scene? This movie has about 120 minutes of those scenes."

Hoping to see it again while it's on the big screen! (and I did cry - lots!)

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