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Film Review: The Tree of Life

Nov 28, 2011 01:13AM, Published by Wendy Sipple, Categories: In Print




Told in an original way, The Tree of Life is about a boy’s childhood told through a series of moments instead of a scene by scene narrative. Through these moments of discovery and emotion you see how the boy’s view of life is shaped and how it affects his development into adulthood and beyond.

The Tree of Life will not be a movie many will like. Its slow pace (really slow paced) and artful style of editing will not endear it to a general audience. In addition, the fact that the movie does not tell a story like most movies will throw off a large segment of the audience as well. The movie is constructed on small moments instead of big scenes. By collecting these small moments together you get the emotional journey this boy takes to become a man and how life has influenced him. It is a bold style of storytelling that the filmmaker uses. But Terrence Malick, the director, is known for his philosophical style of filmmaking and straying beyond (or abandoning) the traditional style of storytelling in his movies.

Frankly, I thought the movie really begins 40 minutes into the film. Everything that happens before that time didn't do a lot for me. In fact there is a 20 minute segment in the movie that feels more like a Discovery Planet Earth episode than a movie. It shows beautiful clips of the earth, space and the sea; stunning imagery that really doesn’t directly connect to the story at hand. Once the movie begins its journey, it is extremely interesting how it delivers its story. It truly is unique and quite impressive how daring the movie is with how it unfolds.

Brad Pitt and the other actors all do well with their parts. The real star of the movie however is Emmanuel Lubezki’s excellent cinematography which is equal to his other masterpiece Children of Men. The images and the way the camera is staged truly makes The Tree of Life an experience like no other.

I have never been a Terrence Malick fan -- in fact I detest most of his movies. Watching paint dry would be preferable than watching A Thin Red Line again. But The Tree of Life is far and away his best movie, especially if you can make it through the first 40 minutes. It requires a lot of patience and attention, but it’s worth it in the end (although I will never watch the film again, once is enough!). If you are a fan of slow moving dramas then I think it would be safe to give this movie a shot, but if you know your attention span is short I would recommend staying clear of this movie at all costs.

Films like Tree of Life – Thin Red Line, 2001 A Space Odyssey and 12 Monkeys


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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