The Tree of Life

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The Tree of Life (2011)

Directed by Terrence Malick

Starring: Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain

Terrence Malick brought his unique vision to this much-anticipated 2011 film. The movie would eventually earn three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. This movie also brought together a wealth of talent including Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain.

The O’Brien family lives in a state of confusion in 1956. As his mother (Chastain) and father (Pitt) continue to clash over their differences, the eldest son Jack (Penn) has a front row seat. With the waves of emotion and anxiety flowing through the home, Jack is forced to learn to deal with his own emotions. Later, Jack is forced to deal with his upbringing in his adult life.

It’s hard to put this movie into a paragraph or two. The movie IS about the O’Brien family, and the effects their dysfunction had on Jack. It is also about so much more than that. There is a deeper message in this film, something that borders on religious or spiritual. The film also does a great job of addressing the “nature vs. nurture” argument. With Malick this means that the movie uses visuals and pure emotion to make its points.

That’s exactly what is most noticeable about this movie. It really shows off Malick’s love and for slow and thoughtful visual sequences. Like The Thin Red Line, this movie sometimes feels like a dream being played out on the screen. In the next moment it comes hurtling back to reality with a brutal honesty that I really love. It all comes together in a powerful movie.

This isn’t a movie for everyone, I feel like I say that a lot. This movie is a slow-moving and deep thinking film. It requires patience and focus to really put the pieces together. This might be a problem for people who want to be easily entertained with a simple story.

I think that if you love good visual film-making then this movie will be a treat. The score and the acting are also amazing, coming together nicely with the other elements of the film. I love Malick and I hope that anyone who hasn’t taken the time will try out one of his amazing movies. I give this one 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 139 minutes


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