Monday, November 14, 2011

REWIND REVIEW: The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

Brad Pitt, Sean Penn,
Jessica Chastain


May 27, 2011

Terrence Malick

Fox Searchlight Pictures

2 hours 19 minutes



Not everyone will fully understand Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life,' which has been in the mankind for decades now. Despite winning the Palme d'Or, the top award at the Cannes Film Festival this past summer, audiences never fully embraced the movie, thus it was gone from the public eye faster than a Ferrari drives off into the sunset. Now it's on DVD and Blu-Ray, so I finally was able to experience what many were calling 2011's best film. While 'The Tree of Life' is sometimes hard to understand and it really feels slow after about an hour or so, it makes up for sublime acting, the most beautiful sceneries/visual effects I've ever seen, and a remarkable path that takes you into the mind of a middle aged man suffering from a traumatized past in the 1950s. 'The Tree of Life' is a unique experience for all, but it can be very hard to follow and it may make your head hurt. If you can watch these types of films without a problem, then 'The Tree of Life' should be on your must see list because it is absolutely mesmerizing and incredible to look at.

This film enjoys cutting from the 50s to the present back to the beginning of time with a lot of whispering voice overs throughout. It's hard to describe the plot of the film because of its mixed editing, but the main focus of the film is Jack, the oldest of three children who absolutely hates his father, a strict and over powering man, and loves his mom, a free spirited and fun woman, with all of his heart. You don't get this plot line until about 45 minutes into the film, but that's because of quick shots of Sean Penn and older versions of Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, as well as a 20 minute long sequence depicting the creation of the universe, Earth, and life on Earth. The film is very slow at times, but it still is something very interesting to watch. I myself was dozing off while watching this, but the film is still mesmerizing nevertheless. The best thing about this movie I must say is the cinematography and the visual effects.

The visual effects in 'The Tree of Life' are some of the greatest special effects that I have ever seen in a movie. During the 20 minute creation of the universe, you see planets colliding, colors clashing together, and galaxies building together in order to create the world that we currently live in. If the visuals and/or the cinematography don't get nominated for any Oscars at all, I may have the urge to sue them for acknowledging high quality mainstream films rather than this treat for the eye. Throughout that 20 minute scene, your eyes will not be able to stop looking at the visual spectacles presented on the screen, and your ears will be in a trance as the heavenly Church music plays during the evolution. So to sum this paragraph up, ‘The Tree of Life's' visuals are absolutely astounding, and the cinematography makes you feel like you're in a movie theater, even if you're at home watching this film on a laptop.

The acting in this movie, like I said previously, is absolutely incredible. Brad Pitt is great as the strict father, showing how aggressive he can get to his wife and kids in several parts of the film. I personally think that Pitt's performance in this film was much more interesting than his portrayal of Billy Beane in September's 'Moneyball.' Sean Penn is in this film for about 5 minutes, which is kind of disappointing because of how fantastic of an actor he is. He barely sheds any words throughout, which only adds to the complexity of this movie. While the lead males were good in this film, Jessica Chastain really steals the show as the angel of a mother treating her kids like real kids rather than prisoners in a cell. The kids in this movie, particularly the one who plays young Sean Penn are quite fantastic as well. They aren't significant in the film, mainly because there's barely any dialogue in the film throughout, but the performances from all are quite great.

Let's face it not everyone will fully understand 'The Tree of Life' whether you watch it once or ten times. Heck, I'm still trying to understand everything that went on in this film. However from what I got from the film, this is a marvelous experience into the human mind and soul, as well as a whole lot of crazy things going on in the universe. Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain give award worthy performances, and the visuals plus the cinematography will take your breath away. You will never shed a single smile in this movie once, but you don't need to because the depressed feeling the movie gives off only adds to the experience. If you can sustain 139 minutes of depressing subjects, slow pacing, confusing editing, topped with great acting and amazing visuals, then you should see 'The Tree of Life.' This movie has been in the making for over two decades, and Terrence Malick delivers exactly what the human mind has only dreamed of. 'The Tree of Life' will probably not end up on my top 10 for 2011, but it is still one of 2011's best movies. Check it out if your mind can sustain it.

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