The key word in all the advance talk about Terrence Malick
’s “A Hidden Life
” has been linear. The film, which premiered on Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival, was supposed to mark the reclusive but prolific director’s return to script-based filmmaking after years spent working in an improvisational, ruminative style; it was billed as Malick telling a story again rather than Malick indulging in his occasionally glorious, occasionally perplexing flights of fancy.
Of course, linear is a relative term when it comes to Terrence Malick. “A Hidden Life
” is anchored in story in a way the director’s last few films have not been, but its storytelling rhythms are quintessentially his, with all the beauty and all the languor that that entails.
Based on the true story of an Austrian conscientious objector who refused to fight for Nazi Germany in World War II, “A Hidden Life
” is certainly