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The Tree of Life (2011)

PG-13 | | Drama, Fantasy | 17 May 2011 (France)
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2:12 | Trailer
The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.

Director:

Terrence Malick

Writer:

Terrence Malick
Popularity
1,535 ( 391)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 116 wins & 124 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Pitt ... Mr. O'Brien
Sean Penn ... Jack
Jessica Chastain ... Mrs. O'Brien
Hunter McCracken ... Young Jack
Laramie Eppler Laramie Eppler ... R.L.
Tye Sheridan ... Steve
Fiona Shaw ... Grandmother
Jessica Fuselier Jessica Fuselier ... Guide
Nicolas Gonda ... Mr. Reynolds
Will Wallace ... Architect
Kelly Koonce Kelly Koonce ... Father Haynes
Bryce Boudoin Bryce Boudoin ... Robert
Jimmy Donaldson Jimmy Donaldson ... Jimmy
Kameron Vaughn Kameron Vaughn ... Cayler
Cole Cockburn Cole Cockburn ... Harry Bates
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Storyline

The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 May 2011 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Tree of Life See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$372,920, 29 May 2011

Gross USA:

$13,303,319

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$58,409,247
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Extended Cut)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Brad Pitt appeared in two movies that were both nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award (Oscar) in 2012. Pitt starred and produced both this movie and Moneyball (2011). Jessica Chastain also appeared in two movies that were both nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award (Oscar) in 2012. Chastain starred in both this movie and The Help (2011). See more »

Goofs

The O'Briens have a fancy ceiling fan with lights attached in their lounge room; these were not available in the '50s. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jack: [in a whisper] Brother. Mother. It was they who led me to your door.
[choir singing dirge]
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

An extended 189 minute version was released on Blu-Ray and DVD by the Criterion Collection in September 2018. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.19 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

After the Rain: Antiphon
Written by Barry Guy
Performed by Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia
Courtesy of NMC Recordings
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Such a promising plot and such a disappointment.
26 May 2011 | by auberusSee all my reviews

Tree of Life is an interesting experiment, some kind of a visual blend. It is a period film centered around a Family in the 1950s. The film depict a crucial time in Life of a boy (the eldest son), who witnesses the loss of innocence and the lack of control over his deepest feelings triggered it seems by the arrival of his new born brother.

But Tree of Life is also a variation over the meaning of Life and Death alternating between a cosmic vision of Life and a subjective and often poetic vision of childhood as an aphorism for Grace, Nature and Love.

The films then introduces the unbearable Death, the one that can't be explain the one that shakes the very balance of a Family, the Death of a son of a brother as we learn that the second born died suddenly at the age of 19 (probably at War).

However the genuine narration and enigmatic if not poetic vision of the cosmos mixed with state of the heart but virtual shots depicting how Life started (the way of Nature) makes for a slide-show of boredom. And as we move along the story of this family seems more and more like a "collage" exercise, some kind of a pretext to voice over cosmic images philosophical questions from our main tree protagonists (The Mother, the elder son and the Father). The result is messy and at times superficial.

In this blend of images and emotions actors aren't use to deliver an acting performance but more so to make the philosophical questioning move along. The problem is the questioning stagnates and closure never really gets through. Even if we understand that the border between Life and Death is as thin as a bank of sand between two seas on which we may meet sometimes, the audience is left with the same Belief before entering the Theater. Eventually you remain the same before and after the movie. You don't feel any more comfort, tranquility, clarity or even sadness. You've just seen beautiful shots.

Soaked with Christian Philosophy Tree of Life delivers as a very well shot film but never provides the audience with a sense of progression and closure. The story of this Family never really takes off nor does the Philosophic Questioning gets to an end.

At posteriori Tree of Life seems like an audacious idea on paper and lays out good material to explore. However the film ends up resembling a nice slide-show with little to no story, which makes me wander if cinema was the best medium for this cosmic Tale.


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