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The Sea of Trees
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Sea of Trees More at IMDbPro »

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69 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

Don't let others influence you to not watch this movie

10/10
Author: esteemdancers-1 from United States
27 August 2016

I don't understand why this movie was booed at the Cannes Film Festival. This is a beautiful story. It is a story in which we learn so many lessons about life's most difficult moments and how one can find the courage to survive. Excellent acting and beautiful script. The cinematography is beautiful.

An American man, Arthur Brennan, played by Matthew McConaughey travels to the "Suicide Forest" (Aokigahara forest) to kill himself at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, the site of numerous suicides. There he encounters a Japanese man, Takumi Nakamura, played by Ken Watanabe, who wants to kill himself as well, and both men begin a journey of self- reflection and survival.

But more than the suicide theme, there is the story of Arthur Brennan and his relationship with his wife, Joan, played by Naomi Watts, which is told to the viewer with a series of flashbacks. The core problems that exist in so many marriages are brought to the surface and examined during the unfolding of the story. It is a stark reminder of how easily we sometimes let love and relationships deteriorate when we don't have to. Thinking we will one day have time to fix the problem.

Beautiful story and excellent acting from all. I loved this film.

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52 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Ignore the critics. This film is worth the watch!

8/10
Author: julian-640-544058 from United States
27 August 2016

OK, so the critics panned this film as boring and lack luster with some very harsh comments, but my curiosity was sparked by the unusual plot so I gave it a go.

Ten minutes into the film, I was near ready to give up on it and agree with it detractors, as it was very slow moving at the start, however, as the story developed I became interested in the 'why' and committed myself to discover the answers.

Matthew McConaughey offers a very good performance as does Ken Watanabe, both of whom demonstrate their desperation, frustration and hopefulness with convincing commitment. Naomi Watts completes the group of well matched, well directed talent. I found the cinematography to be excellent as well.

I did figure out the plot twist before it was revealed, but the way the director exposed it, I thought, was quite brilliant, and, just when I thought the film was over, we are presented with still another surprise that actually made me smile.

All and all, Sea of Trees delivered as both entertainment and a moral study from which every observer can benefit. I enjoyed it, and, given a chance, I think most views will as well.

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25 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Don't let unjustified bad reviews stop you from seeing this film

10/10
Author: mojomoc from Austria
2 September 2016

This film was truly well done, all three main characters were real. Regret, guilt, love buried in a challenging relationship. A soul journey that couldn't have been told any better. Matthew McC. had me in tears which really only rarely happens. He got me all through.

The film led you step by step towards the whole, you could follow each revelation, lesson of Arthur's journey as if you were with him, there. An atypical Gus Van Sant Film sure. BUT he was able to capture the fine in between the lines way of the Japanese culture which talks in symbols more than direct expression, in a beautiful and still GVS-creepy surprising different way.

Go see it if you had regret in your life, you won't regret it ;-)

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36 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining Eyecandy

7/10
Author: hcamiel from Netherlands
29 April 2016

Saw it in a sneak preview screening.

After seeing the horrible "The Forest" i was a bit reluctant to see another movie about the suicide forest, but was surprised that this movie deals with different themes.

I watched the movie because i wanted to watch a movie, and in that i found a lot of enjoyment. The movie had some good pacing and it deals with basically a present and past storyline entwined and both are interesting enough to have you go "no wait, i want to know how it continues" with every switch.

The acting was good, the story was perhaps a bit on the "cliché" side near the end, but in all satisfying. I have to mention the cinematography, because there are some beautiful shots in there, sometimes it felt so strange when shots where done without a steady cam but in ends up feeling more "organic" in the end.

So if you want to watch a nice story driven film, give it a shot.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A powerful film about life

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
13 September 2016

This film tells the story of a man who just lost his wife to tragic circumstances. He travels to Tokyo, where there is a forest near Mount Fuji. This forest is a beautiful place, where people from all over the world go to commit suicide.

Going to a beautiful place to die is a baffling concept for a person who does not want to commit suicide. That beautiful forest is sadly clouded by people who romanticise death in the depth of their despair. In this film, I'm glad to see that most of the film is about the power of life and the will to live. Otherwise, the plot would just be too sombre and disturbing. I find the plot very powerful, and it makes me think about the experiences of people who goes into the forest for whatever reason. I think this is a beautiful film, and a powerful film about life.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A Good Movie

7/10
Author: Islam El Gohary
29 August 2016

I think the movie is underrated. I know it is not one of the best movies that anyone should watch,but it is not that awful. A great crew in this movie. The script is not that good.The movie will really touches u.The drama was good. A good experience for anyone. there is no doubt that Matthew did a great job at this movie, but he should take care of his coming movies. I compare between his role in this movie and mud. I think the difference can not be noticed. The same of his voice at both movies. overall the whole cast and the movie is very good for me. I recommend the lovers of drama to watch this movie especially the psycho movie lovers. do not be so harsh on Matthew. Each actor need a variety.It is a good one

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Give it a Chance

7/10
Author: James Barber (jbarber@thescreenwriter.me) from Atlanta, GA
13 September 2016

This was a very good movie. Yes, it starts slow but if you have the patience to watch until the very end you will find the writer and director did a wonderful job at tying everything up together. It shouldn't have been booed, as it was a heart warming story that had excellent acting. This movie deserves an opportunity at redemption in the world of movie downloads, and cable movies. So sad to see it destroyed by critics without having been given a chance. This is not a movie that I would watch over and over, but it is a very good one time watch. The use of flashbacks may be a turnoff for some as it drags out the movie a little longer than some may be comfortable with. The filming was different but captured the essence of the film, emotions and desperation. Trust me, do yourself a favor and give it a view on a weekend when you are bored... so no loss in the event you agree with the film festival crowd and critics.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Near perfect pacing, writing & acting lead to a great movie. One you have to be in the mood for & be emotionally ready to handle

8/10
Author: Tony Heck (cosmo_tiger@hotmail.com) from United States
17 October 2016

"I don't want to die, I just didn't want to live." Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) is tired of his life and is just flailing and decides he only has one option. He flies to Japan in order to visit the mysterious Aokigahara forest to end it all. When he begins to carry out his plan he notices Takumi (Watanabe) who has changed his mind about suicide and is trying to find his way out. Arthur decides to help him escape, and along the way the two begin to discuss their lives, and find reasons for living. This is a good movie but one you must be in the mood for. This is not super depressing, but its not a very happy movie either. The acting is great, as would be expected, and that really carries the movie. Little by little you find out more and more about Arthur's story and why he is in the position he is. The pacing and writing of the movie is near perfect and the acting only adds to the emotion needed for a film like this. There was a movie called The Forest that came out a few months ago that dealt with this area as well, I liked that one better but the movies are just so different its almost hard to compare the two. Overall, near perfect pacing, writing and acting lead to a great movie. That said, it is one you have to be in the mood for and be emotionally ready to handle. Since the re-watchablity (for me at least) isn't there, I give this a B+.

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12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Truth and redemption wrapped in shades of darkness

9/10
Author: Wendy Peterson
2 September 2016

Finally a movie with a story that has depth and meaning - not just grotty realism or flights of fantasy, no matter how speculative, without a shred of truth.

I really enjoyed the performances as these kind of characters wouldn't be easy to portray, yet they were convincing, engaging - even masterful. Matthew was fantastic in his role. He portrayed a deeply depressed man for most of it, so everything had to be delivered in a lack-lustre, listless manner. However, the high energy, dramatic turns are usually the ones most honoured. I enjoyed the story as although there were shades of darkness there were also glimmers of light and hope and beauty. Guilt can be one of the most negative emotions, stealing hope and joy. But it's as pointless as all the other negatives. I like how the MC found his redemption through helping someone else find the right path. The same can be true for everyone.

The pacing might be a little slow, but the movie had a lot to say and show. Speaking of showing, the cinematography was beautiful. And the music added just the right kind of emotion and tone, sometimes lifting the sombre tone of the story by hinting there is always hope and help if we know where to look.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

disappointing but not near as bad as the press would have you believe

4/10
Author: eddie_baggins from Australia
14 September 2016

Hot off a streak of films that included The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club and sci-fi classic Interstellar, the prospect of new lease of life actor Matthew McConaughey and renowned director Gus Van Sant for a powerful sounding drama, we at the time new little factual details about, seemed like an appealing and likely moving film experience.

Fast forward to September of 2016 and Sea of Trees, unable to recover from a disastrous Cannes Film Festival premiere in 2015 In which the film became a laughing stock (and a filmed booed at its press screening) of media agencies and film fans the world over, has had a fanfare free release to mostly home video markets around the globe or in the case of America an embarrassing cinema release which has at the time of writing netted the film box office takings of $20,000 off a budget in excess of $30 million that will position the critically lambasted experience (Rotten Tomatoes rating of 10%) to become one of the years, and recent memories, biggest cinematic failings.

With all the talk and negativity surrounding this tale of McConaughey's intellectually minded professor Arthur Brennan taking a suicidal sojourn to Japan's suicide forest after the passing of his wife Joan (well played by Naomi Watts), only to find possible redemption after he runs into fellow suicidal Japanese businessman Takumi Nakamura (a disappointing Ken Watanabe), you'd be expecting Van Sant's film to be a new aged The Room or Samurai Cop but while the film is clearly not even half the film it well could've been, Sea of Trees is not nearly as unwatchable as many would have you believe.

Filled with pretentiousness thanks to Buried screenwriter Chris Sparling's script, Van Sant's curiously unengaging direction (calling to mind his other recent misfire Restless) that veers frequently into Hallmark movie territory, one of cinemas most misguided musically scores thanks to composer Mason Bates and an overplayed and scene mugging McConaughey performance that fails to capture the form his developed over the last few years, Sea of Trees has many clearly obvious components that open it up to the critical and dagger wielding masses but it also has a heart, whilst often hidden, that carries into a more watchable (if only slightly so) landscape.

Whether it's a confronting and open hearted examination of Arthur and Joan's troubled marriage around a campfire, Watt's fine turn as the doomed Joan or an ending that could've really been something handled better, Sea of Trees still bares the tiny remnants and fragmented elements of the film many all hoped for when it was announced.

Expectations can be a dangerous thing, Sea of Trees can well and truly bear witness to this and while its far from 2016's worst film, Gus Van Sant and crews misguided and miscued meditation of life, love and loss is unlikely to ever find itself spoken about as a misunderstood masterpiece, rather a film that for whatever reason couldn't find out what it was trying to say or how it was going to say it.

2 flash floods out of 5

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