Saturday, September 03, 2011

"Tree of Life" (2011) - Movie Review

Terrence Malick’s ambitious and enormous film “Tree of Life” is as much beautiful to look at as staring at a beautiful gorgeous creature. The problem is at some point of time you want to reach out and make a communication with that creature to initiate an emotion or spark to continue on. “Tree of Life” has spits of sparks and man those are glorious to be enthralled upon but it quite over invites itself and becomes a drag. A film made with pure artistic integrity, Terrence Malick brings forth images that would dazzle the audience and put serenity in the bosom of organized aggression. Yet as much as one can admire it, we are lost in the minds of the director unable to hear or listen when the credits roll.

The comparison to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is unavoidable as both deals with the span of the existence of the universe. Both treats the material with scathing honesty that incepts from the nerves of a creative mind on to the technological invention of art medium of cinema screen. As much as I adored, admired and applauded the work of Kubrick’s, I mentioned that I cannot sit through that film again. Malick’s venture might grow on me because as you begin to watch a film repeatedly, you begin to expect the great scenes and thereby forget the misses. Regardless this review would be the first viewing experience and what may come of tomorrow will be left to the time that advances without hindrance.

The film is not structured if you have not realized it by now. The film does not have a clear narration if you have not realized it by now. The film is not your regular movie even for an ardent movie goer, and you better realize if you are one. Malick works wonders with his cinematographer Ennamuel Lubezki. True that the technology has aided and assisted in bringing sharper images and crisp quality to the picture in these days but this film captures the picture like it is growing as the time goes by. When we visit places filled with nature’s plethora of blessing, the pictures does not do justice to that place and being there is what it really means to be. Malick’s eye through the camera gathers and violently pulls the experience out of that nature and shows it with tender and beauty. We are engulfed in a never ending poem changing scenes seamlessly.

It has actors too you know. It is a tale about relationship of a man and his boy, the boy and the man he has become, a mother and her boys and the brothers they grew up with. The man is Brad Pitt as Mr. O’brien though name does not mean a thing as I did not catch it at all. So goes for all the characters. Jessica Chastain is the mother and Sean Penn is the grown young boy. The relationship between each of the member becomes a portrait of the American family and in terms of core functionality representing human race in social existence.

The father is affectionate, a provider, tough, commanding and scathing when it comes to dinner table. He has expectations from his eldest son. He truly sees him as the extension of him. The mother is caring, angelic, tender and melancholic. She treats her kids with a compassion a mother can only have and provides the purity of affection in every step of the way. A father has his moments but when happy moments happen with her, it is true love. It brings a nostalgia in the viewer of those happy days. While we all know the nature of the bond between a father, a mother and their offspring, Malick makes it look like a news in a good way.

What is “Tree of Life” about? As a confused film aficionado would obscurely speculate I would say it is about everything. The life we live in, lived in and the future that might become. All the characters talk to god or nature in some form or another. There is confession, regrets, pain, mercy, care, trust and the everlasting love. It has family, togetherness and a representation of how different each of us are but how common the emotions we go through as growing up.

Despite these glorious emotions and relationships, by the time we hit the end roads of “Tree of Life”, we are left to be wandering not for conclusion but devoid of any more artistic appreciation of the poetry Malick keeps on writing. May be the beauty wears but by the end we are not exhausted rather left expecting more sooner. It does not overstay its invite but fails to carry on the moment it planted. It fails to connect us completely with the characters. While their memories are painted solid, it does not make us involve with them. They become a representation and remain so but not quite become unique enough to empathize with them. And I imagine adding more voices to those would have saved it but then again this is a man’s straight clear path to the work he wants to project. In that it succeeds but it does not quite carry the ache to a memorable likable scar.

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