Unbelievably terrible
8 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
To be honest, I went to watch Midnight in Paris but arrived 10 minutes late, so I went to see The Tree of Life. To be honest again, I don't like Terrence Malick movies that much. However, I convinced myself to sit through it until the end no matter what. It was horrible. I mean, no matter how abstract a movie is, there must be something the viewer can cling to, something the viewer cares about. This movie has nothing like that. The funny thing is, the set-up is fairly quick: in 10 minutes you know what the deal is. Sean Penn is a middle-aged man reflecting on the meaning of life and reminiscing on his somewhat estranged relationship with his father (Brad Pitt) and the loss of his brother in the Vietnam war. After those 10 minutes, nothing that happens in the movie changes that. There's just no development, it s a bunch of short cuts (honestly, the longest cut might be 10 seconds long) showing the family life in the 1950s (very much like home movies) mixed with images of space, Earth in its beginnings, dinosaurs (I'm not kidding) etc. It beggars belief that the crummy hacks out there calling themselves critics say this movie is a "masterpiece" and draws comparison with Kubrick's 2001. Is it because of the slow pace and special effects? Kubrick used those for a reason: to tell a story, to help advance the plot and create a sense of expectation and/or suspense. The Tree of Life is nothing like that, because there's simply no plot. You don't know who to root for or sympathize with. There's no hero, no challenge, no arc. It's just a 2 1/2 hour collage of short scenes. I saw several people leaving the room after just 15 minutes of projection; others kept checking their watches every few minutes (myself included.) It's a pity really, because the performances are quite good, particularly the kids in the 1950s sequence and Brad Pitt as the stern father discharging his career frustrations on the wife and kids. Sean Penn is there too, but he's useless: the director gives him nothing to do, so he just makes ugly faces at the camera as if he's suffering from terrible heartburn. In short: save your money.
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