“The Tree of Life” has had a complex and arduous road from concept to the big screen. After being filmed nearly three years ago, it has had many release dates and through either distribution partners backing out or director Terrence Malick not believing the film had been given its proper time in editing, it has yet to be released.
It finally had its premiere screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and the reviews are mixed to say the least. It was reported that the film ended to “boos” … and a standing ovation. I’m not quite sure what to make of that, but from that screening at the film festival it currently has an 88 percent approval rating by critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film tells the story of Jack (Sean Penn) and his two brothers, their childhood and the difference in world views presented to them by their mother (Jessica Chastain) and father (Brad Pitt). As each parent strives to make Jack into who they want him to be, he grows and experiences his first brush with death, pain and suffering. He grows up to become a lost soul in a modern time; lost in a labyrinth of feelings and doubts. He must go in search for what the meaning of life is to him.
We have two clips from “The Tree of Life” that show the very different ways the parents communicate and interact with the three young boys. Watch them first and then we can discuss.
In the clip “Help Each Other,” we see the loving and playful nature of the mother with her three sons. As she takes part in games and fantasies, you can see how close she truly is to her sons. She even has to be stern with them when they take a prank with a lizard too far for her comfort.
The other clip, “Hit Me,” shows a stark contrast to see how their father is with them. Being away from home a lot for work, it seems to me that he is trying to cram all the manly and masculine training into a single lesson in how to hit someone. As you can tell, the three boys aren’t that into the rough lesson with their father and he maybe even frightens them a bit. His view on the world is clearly a darker one and in his mind he is trying to prepare them for their future in it. Although he may mean well, it doesn’t look like his attempts are being received very well.
With many details of this movie being kept under wraps, I am quite intrigued to see the movie and hopefully will be enlightened to the director’s vision that is supposed to be complex and beautiful.
“The Tree of Life” opens in theaters May 27 in limited release and is rated PG-13 for some thematic material. Also starring in the film are Fiona Shaw, Kari Matchett, Kimberly Whalen and Jackson Hurst.
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Not a huge fan of modern day Malick. Badlands and Days of Heaven are classics, though.