The Tree of Life – Review

The Tree of Life has been making some noise as of late ever since it won the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Add to that the fact that the film stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and people it begins to gather attention. This is a film where you need to begin it with proper expectations. This is not a normal film. It is focused much more on trying to be a work of art than trying to provide any sort of entertainment.

The film sort of tells a story of a man with a somewhat troubled life and highlights some of his youthful years. I say that it “sort of tells a story” because telling a story is not what this film does, nor does it try to do. The film purposefully leaves out details and facts throughout in an effort to get you to focus on the emotion and feelings of what you are watching. Nevermind what is happening – focus on what you are feeling. I say “somewhat troubled life” because it really isn’t a troubled life. It’s the type of troubled life that only a hyper-emotional artist can have when manufactured problems provide more excitement than anything else in your life.

I was definitely surprised with the long sequences of what I’ll call ‘artistic imagery’. Long periods of time go by where you just watch as varying scenes play out. When I say varying, I’m talking about how it ranges from watching the formation of the first cellular organism to watching dinosaurs stroll through a riverbed. A lot of the visuals used were actually quite remarkable to look at, but trying to figure out how they were related to anything else that was happening was difficult.

Part of the overall problem is that not much actually happens in the film. You see a family living their life and pretty normal things happen to them. It would be as if a purposefully boring, standard middle America family was chosen and filmed for awhile. Sure, such things happen and are real, but I have a hard time wasting my time watching a story of other people’s boring life when I could be living my own life doing something more worthwhile.

This is the type of film where critic reviews will average much higher than audience reviews – where most viewers will be told they didn’t like the movie because they lack patience or understanding. After watching The Tree of Life you can’t help but feel that the film was very successful at doing what it intended to do but you are left wondering if what was intended was even worth attempting.



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