So yesterday, I had a few free hours even though lately I have been wildly busy preparing for my year in Korea. I took this free time and said, “okay, I will watch a movie. Why not the Tree of Life?” Little did I expect what horror was awaiting me.
I only got through 45 minutes of this movie, so for your plot summary I will rely on Wikipedia. Tree of Life is an independent drama released in 2011 directed by Terence Malick. The movie begins with a family in the 1950’s with three sons. One of the sons dies. Because of this, the ill-tempered father (Brad Pitt) puts too much pressure on one of his other sons, Jack (Sean Penn) and despite his deep love of music, Jack ends up becoming an architect. Reflecting on this, Jack fights to realize who he really is.
Apparently, that is what the movie should have been about. However, there was so much random shit in Tree of Life that it didn’t seem to be about anything. For 95% of what I saw, my reaction was, “What the hell does this have to do with the story?” Pretty much, the entire 45 minutes that I watched were a bunch of abstract images plus some video footage of the actors thrown in and over-the-top whispered voice-overs saying stuff like “When did you first touch my heart?…And even then I knew my life held no meaning…And then I was aroused, but I wasn’t quite sure why…I became determined to live my life as a fish…” I didn’t mind it for the first few minutes and thought it was just setting the tone, and soon stuff was really going to start happening. 45 minutes later, I realized that the entire fucking movie was going to be that way. And that is why I turned it off, because having to ask questions like “How does showing me a picture of The Horse-Head Nebula have anything to do with your son dying?” just pissed me off.
It would be easy for someone to point out, hey you didn’t see the entire movie, so how do you know it’s utter crap? Quite a valid point. However, a movie has to keep the viewer’s interest. And this movie obviously didn’t if I had no problem turning it off. If that happens with a movie, it has utterly failed.
What’s frustrating is that I usually like artistic movies, films that try new things and experiment and aren’t completely conventional. However, I feel as if Tree of Life was just so avante guard and abstract that it was completely inaccessible. If you can’t connect with a movie, with the story or the characters, you might as well be watching a slideshow of the vacation taken by someone you hate.
If I had to say one good thing about this movie, it would be that the images I did see were beautiful. They made no sense, but were in fact stunning. Completely uneccesary, yet pretty to look at. Very much like Paris Hilton.
Considering how angry this movie made me (I want those 45 minutes back!) I give it a 1. Try again Terence Malick. Better yet, don’t.