I may be late in reviewing this movie and there’s a reason why. I first watched this movie last fall getting to the halfway point before giving up. I’m not saying I didn’t like what I was seeing, I just wasn’t prepared at that point to watch a movie like this, it wasn’t my moment. I waited a little while and finally got the chance to see it again. This time I did finish it and took my time to digest the whole experience as it takes a while to dig in to what just transpired. First off I must say that the movie is gorgeous, its visually stunning and artistic. That aside it is also a beautiful experience from start to finish, it takes a little patience at first, but once y0u get in to the rhythm of the flick you are in for a movie unlike anything you’ve seen. The Tree of Life is a worthy contender for Best Picture of the year and if it was truly based on the art form of cinema this would certainly win by a landslide.
One thing this movie has going is for it is that it’s not short in talent. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are both excellent actors that truly stand above Hollywood’s best. If we talk about sure bets performance wise in movies today, we must include Pitt every single time in the conversation. In The Tree of Life we have one of his best performances ever, he just nails it in every department; its a pity he isn’t nominated for this role as it ranks up their with the best this year, sometimes even upping his own performance in Moneyball. Sean Penn also gives a very good supporting role as the older version of the Mr. O’Brien’s (Pitt) son, Jack. A man in distress, Jack shows us how a long life pain leads him to question God’s very existence. Penn does everything right, the expression we see in his face is constantly expressing sadness in ways only an experienced actor like him can. Jessica Chastain is also a great addition to the cast doing an absolutely stunning job as Mrs. O’Brien. There is no doubt in my mind that this performance merits a lot more than her role in The Help.
Terrence Malick, director in this film, is well known for slow moving flicks, and this is no exception. The first 40 minutes of The Tree of Life can be very slow. At one moment it takes you all the way back to The Big Bang as it tries to explain the way this universe was created to the point in time in which the events of this story happened. This serves up as a way to clarify what Jack is going trough. His mind is going berserk with negative thoughts and this may be a way he is trying to explain the origins of life while he questions his faith in God. The story tells follows the life of Jack, the eldest son in a 1950′s Texas family. As we string along the story line, we see Jack experience everything a child goes through since he is born until his early teenage years. Going along we start understanding his ongoing hate towards his military like father. This leads him to an unhappy adult life in which he questions many of the things that brought him to this point in his life.
As a movie watcher, critic and fan I can say that this picture moved me such extent that it is sometimes difficult for me to grasp all that it gives you. There are many things we can learn from the way this story is told. First off, life is precious, every single thing that happens is for a bigger larger purpose, there are no accidents, the wonders of life are written in everything in this world. As old Jack learns about this, he can finally understand the many things that he questioned throughout his life to finally forgive and forget. This is why they put us through the whole big bang viewing process. It can seem strange at first but if you are sensible about it, you get to a point of entering the Jack’s mindset and see how he connects everything. In my own experience, I understand that there are bigger more important things in life than winning an argument. We tend to get in to issues that don’t mean anything in the bigger picture and sometimes base our whole life around them. This movie gives us reasons to understand why this isn’t as important as it may sometimes seem.
As we go through Jack’s childhood, we get to see the little things that innocence find amusing. I was quickly drawn back to my own life as I re-experienced every single moment Jack was living as a child. There are things that we all have in common; discovering the world is one of them. I must admit that most of Jack’s experiences as a child were also part of my life. I think most kids (specially male) live the same kind of moments Jack goes through. The toughness of his father and the sensible side his mother gives him is also very common in our society, this kind of stuff is what makes us what we are. The way he deals with his younger brothers, the camaraderie and bond he creates with them, going way beyond the bloodline they share. There are moments in the movie where you can see the trust his younger brother has in him, things that do happen in real life. Beautiful.
I can keep talking about every moment in this movie that reminded me of my own life, but I must finish this review. I’m glad I took the time to watch this movie from start to finish, it’s truly a work of art and one of my favorites of the year, if not my favorite. I know it’s not a movie for everybody as some of you may get quickly bored with the slow pace that it has. For everybody else who appreciates a good story, give it a shot, you won’t regret watching one of the most sincere, artistic, well done movies of the year. It is as beautiful as it gets.