Critic Reviews



Based on 18 critic reviews provided by
The resulting film is yet another example of a Black List script that does not work on the screen. And, frankly, we're not sure an auteur other than Van Sant would have fared any better.
It has to be said that Van Sant is not above doing one for the studio but quite what sins he had committed to be made to make this pile of sub-Nicolas Sparks tripe will be beyond most.
As all the dots join in a pattern that strives for deeper meaning, the just too-damned-cute Sea of Trees becomes undone by a surfeit of contrived ingenuity.
Van Sant wanted to study a man drowning in sorrow and guide him towards the light. But the guidance he gets is fake, forced, and unbearably tricksy, a kind of suicide rehab with gotcha devices.
Gus Van Sant’s sticky, gooey side — previously on display in the likes of Finding Forrester and especially in the 2011 Restless — oozes out once more in the woefully sentimental and maudlin The Sea of Trees.
Not even Matthew McConaughey can sustain the mushy, amateurish story, which digs itself a deeper hole as it moves along. The established talents of both director and star only serve to magnify the many wrong moves that this stunning misfire takes.
Slant Magazine
There's little here to suggest that the film is anything more than a hastily cobbled-together studio star vehicle.
The Guardian
For all its apparent sombreness and thoughtfulness, The Sea Of Trees is an exasperatingly shallow film on an important and agonisingly painful subject - depression and suicide. This it slathers in palliative sentimentality.
This risibly long-winded drama is perhaps above all a profound cultural insult, milking the lush green scenery of Japan’s famous Aokigahara forest for all it’s worth, while giving co-lead Ken Watanabe little to do other than moan in agony, mutter cryptically, and generally try to act as though McConaughey’s every word isn’t boring him (pardon the expression) to death.
The Playlist
From the cloying, ever-present score to the complete lack of narrative momentum, it all adds up to a film that's easily Van Sant's worst, and is a sad black mark on McConaughey's mostly excellent recent run. Ultimately, Sea Of Trees feels like an entirely appropriate title: it makes you feel like you're drowning, and it's full of sap.

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