The Tree of Life (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | January 22, 2012 | 1 Comment

5 Stars

The Tree of Life is about a man who has just gotten the news that his brother died.  The man, named Jack remembers and reflects  on his childhood. When he was a boy he lived in Texas in the 50’s with a mom, a dad, and two younger brothers. The mother says early on in the movie that there are two ways of life: the way of nature and the way of grace. Jack thinks about his memories including his rough relationship with his father, his mother’s niceness, his attitude towards his brothers, and his desire to fit into the world.

If you’re thinking this sounds like your average drama it’s not. The family flashbacks are interspersed with sequences involving dinosaurs, jellyfish, outer space, and the formation of Earth. These breathtaking moments are magical and quite  obviously intended to be seen on the big screen. However it’s testament to the power of  the director Terrence Malick’s vision that when I watched the movie on an iPad in a bumpy car that I was still completely wowed by, for example, a scene in which the entire universe is created. But although the film could be the most epic independent movie ever made I’ll pause from raving about the special effects for a minute and talk about the actual story.

I was very connected to all the characters because of how great the actors all were. A startlingly mature Brad Pitt and the angel-like Jessica Chaisten are equally fantastic at respectively embodying nature and grace. I was also amazed by the stunning Hunter McCracken in his debut role as the young Jack.  There are scenes that are very sad including one in which the Father loses his temper.  Pitt is very different than he was in Moneyball.  In Moneyball he was a good person in tough situations, but in this film he’s a troubled person in touch situations. I disagree with others that there are scenes that ramble on and I was surprised that I never got bored because I was so fascinated with the story.

I can understand when critics say that they think Malick has made this movie for himself rather than an audience (says ABC radio) but this is the kind of movie that is meant to be discussed and debated. But seriously what is Mike Ward (of Richmond.com) talking about when he says “I admire The Tree of Life – in the same way I admire the white-haired lady in the Guinness Book of World Records with 28-foot fingernails.” With a story this intensely emotional however I found it completleey impossible not to be hooked by this tale of love, family, space, life, and death.

It is very interesting how Malick displays his thoughts bout god and the universe. I think that all the characters are in some way trying to fit in the world or understand what life is about.  The reason that Malick has decided to include scenes of dinosaurs is because he shows how different people have different thoughts in different situations for example when the dinosaur decides not to kill the other dinosaur, it’s an example of grace. Both ways of life come with consequences, because nature can make you lonely because you are the only person who has everything they want and grace could make you disappointed that even though you are helping many others you don’t have what you wished. The director’s point is not to decide which is necessarily the right way, but rather for others to decide and form their own opinions.

Amidst all the shots of stars and space is a very personal story about life and death. I suspect this film will become a classic. Many people will have different ideas about it, but when I was done watching it, the idea that was most in my head was this was a truly great film.

My favorite scene is near the end of the movie so I won’t spoil it. It involves people talking about a gun. I like it because of the great performances from Hunter McCracken and Laramie Epler and the scene is also very moving and emotional.

I am not sure who my favorite character is because I didn’t fully agree with any of their beliefs. Also the actors are all equally great so it really is hard to pick. I think Sean Penn was kind of wasted because he didn’t really do anything. I would like to point out that the rising star Jessica Chaisten was good and very different than how she was as Celia Foote in The Help. I also thought Brad Pitt was good and different than how he normally is. I also am guessing McCracken will soon become very popular.

The Tree of Life is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic material, and I agree.

This is one for the best movies of 2011 and it’s truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen. I suggest you see it right away because the cast is great, and the special effects are stunning. This is magical movie making at it’s most magical.


One Response to “The Tree of Life (Flack’s Review)”

  1. Ida Mae Raoof
    January 25th, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    And I didn’t see this movie because it sounded like it was so hard to understand that some people walked out. Thank goodness I have
    Flick and Flack to set me on the right path. You guys are amazing!

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