Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 43
  2. Negative: 1 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Jul 4, 2011
    100
    There is simply nothing like it out there: profound, idiosyncratic, complex, sincere and magical; a confirmation that cinema can aspire to art.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jun 17, 2011
    100
    This film is undoubtedly a piece of art, as much so as a Picasso painting, one that invites viewers to immerse themselves, scratch their heads and consider it.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jun 10, 2011
    100
    The Tree of Life is a religious experience. Overtly. Audaciously. Unashamedly. No film has ever reached as high toward the face of God and, in our commodified future, few are likely to try.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jun 9, 2011
    100
    Still, somehow, The Tree of Life - impressionistic, revelatory, elliptical - works.
  5. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jun 2, 2011
    100
    At times trying and perplexing, but it also contains some of the most psychologically insightful and ecstatic filmmaking imaginable.
  6. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jun 2, 2011
    100
    The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," and it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling.
  7. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jun 2, 2011
    100
    A sense of reconciliation is Malick's great accomplishment in The Tree of Life, affording us equal wonder at grace and nature alike. 
  8. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Jun 1, 2011
    100
    The film is gorgeous and abstract, leaping around in time and space, structured in movements and more like a symphony than a conventional narrative.
  9. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    May 27, 2011
    100
    A shape-shifting film, it resembles a poem. At other moments, it is closer to a symphony. Most often, it approximates a fervent prayer.
  10. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    May 26, 2011
    100
    With disarming sincerity and daunting formal sophistication The Tree of Life ponders some of the hardest and most persistent questions, the kind that leave adults speechless when children ask them.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    May 26, 2011
    100
    In terms of scale, The Tree Of Life recalls the mammoth ambition of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," but it's also more intimate and personal than Malick's previous films, rooted in vivid memories of growing up in '50s Texas.
  12. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    May 24, 2011
    100
    Better than a masterpiece - whatever that is - The Tree of Life is an eruption of a movie, something to live with, think, and talk about afterward.
  13. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    May 24, 2011
    100
    The Tree of Life enthralls right from the start.
  14. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    May 17, 2011
    100
    Result is pure-grade art cinema destined primarily for the delectation of Malick partisans and adventurous arthouse-goers.
  15. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Jun 9, 2011
    91
    An extraordinary thing, and one that I shall likely esteem for a long time. Philosophically, though, it's still mired in the primordial ooze in a way that will, I suspect, forever make me hold it at arm's length.
  16. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 17, 2011
    91
    More meditation than movie, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is bound to mystify, awe and exasperate in equal measures.
  17. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    May 27, 2011
    90
    The middle section of the film, in which we follow Jack's childhood in a series of fragmented memories from birth until about the age of 12, is as astonishingly precise a rendering of the way the world looks to a child as I've seen on film.
  18. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    May 27, 2011
    90
    Daring in concept, occasionally daffy in execution and ultimately unforgettable, Mr. Malick's film offers a heartfelt answer to the question of where we humans belong - with each other, on this planet, bound by love.
  19. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    May 23, 2011
    90
    Tucked away inside the grandeur, though, and enlivened by jump cuts, is a sharp, not unharrowing story of a father and son, and, amid one's exasperation, there is no mistaking Malick's unfailing ability to grab at glories on the fly.
  20. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    May 17, 2011
    90
    The Tree of Life is pretty much nuts overall, a manic hybrid folly with flashes of brilliance. But even if that's true it's a noble crazy, a miraculous William Butler Yeats kind of crazy, alive with passion for art and the world, for all that is lost and not lost and still to come.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    May 17, 2011
    90
    Brandishing an ambition it's likely no film, including this one, could entirely fulfill, The Tree of Life is nonetheless a singular work, an impressionistic metaphysical inquiry into mankind's place in the grand scheme of things that releases waves of insights amid its narrative imprecisions.
  22. Reviewed by: Wade Major
    May 17, 2011
    90
    Aggressively impressionistic and unapologetically spiritual, Malick's long-gestating meditation on the meaning of life is, if nothing else, a singularly original and deeply personal film - a growing rarity in American cinema.
  23. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jun 15, 2011
    88
    The movie plays out as a series of memories, so exact and evocative that watching it becomes an immersive experience.
  24. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jun 9, 2011
    88
    The Tree of Life falls short of masterful but retains a power that far too many motion pictures lack. It's about SOMETHING and, even when it fails, it does so in a manner that is interesting and not infantile.
  25. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jun 2, 2011
    88
    This may be the most overtly Christian mainstream picture since "The Passion of the Christ." Unlike that one, though, Malick's comes with a generosity of spirit large enough to get all sorts of people (including non-believers) thinking about the nature of faith and what it's all about.
  26. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    May 30, 2011
    88
    The Tree of Life's fetching images are like glowing shards of glass, and together they form a grandiose mirror that reflects Malick's impassioned philosophical outlook. It's unquestionably this great filmmaker's most personal work, a revelation of how he came to be, why he creates, and where he feels he's going.
  27. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    May 27, 2011
    88
    For all its flaws, The Tree of Life is a stunning exception to the rule that you can safely check your brain at the popcorn counter until after Labor Day. That's enough to place it among the year's best movies, or at least most-talked-about ones.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    May 26, 2011
    88
    Like its predecessors (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line and The New World), Tree delivers truths that don't go down easy. No one with a genuine interest in the potential of film would think of missing it.
  29. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    May 25, 2011
    83
    Malick clings to the promise of grace: His vision of the afterlife is a dreamy beach, enhanced by an excellent playlist of fine classical music, and promising the peace that surpasses all understanding. Plus a beautiful sky.
  30. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jun 9, 2011
    80
    Beautiful, baffling, poetic, pretentious, it's one big ball of moviedom. Malick tackles the whole shooting match, pondering (and showing) the creation of the universe, life itself, death and the afterlife, and everything in between.
  31. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    May 27, 2011
    80
    Like so much in this astounding, consistently beautiful and challenging movie, the answer depends on what you bring to it. Think of it as the Ultimate Anti-Summer-Blockbuster.
  32. 80
    After warming up with "The Thin Red Line" and "The New World," Malick has succeeded in fully creating his own film syntax, his own temporal reality, and lo, it is … kind of goofy. But riveting.
  33. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jun 2, 2011
    78
    Even when The Tree of Life does not achieve the heights for which it aims, it soars boldly and fearlessly.
  34. 75
    The result actually plays like a divine pronouncement, cosmic in scope and oracular in tone, a cinematic sermon on the mount that shows its creator in exquisite form.
  35. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jun 22, 2011
    75
    Ponderous and perplexing, a somberly audacious film to make viewers swoon or snore, take your pick. It is defiantly opaque, a free-form meditation on nature and nurture across millennia with a tinge of biblical grace.
  36. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 28, 2011
    75
    If I had to give a two-word review of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, it would be: "Wow! Huh??"
  37. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    May 26, 2011
    65
    The Tree of Life is gorgeous to look at. It's also a gargantuan work of pretension and cleverly concealed self-absorption masquerading as spiritual exploration.
  38. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jun 16, 2011
    63
    Like all his movies except "Badlands," a taut 1973 debut, "Tree" looks gorgeous, has philosophic ambitions, meanders wherever Malick's imagination takes him and stays dramatically inert.
  39. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Jun 5, 2011
    63
    The movie is church via the planetarium. It's as if Malick set out to paint the Sistine Chapel and settled for a dome at the Museum of Natural History.
  40. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jun 2, 2011
    63
    At its best, The Tree of Life makes the viewer lean forward, eager to enter Malick's own dreamy, poetic consciousness. At worst, it leads to the vague feeling that we're listening to the meanderings of someone who's not sure we're smart enough to keep up.
  41. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    May 27, 2011
    50
    While Malick's great ability holds us for a time, it is finally not enough to compensate for a lack of dramatic involvement - those eschatological quandaries tend to overwhelm the story. The Tree of Life, its enormous advantages notwithstanding, ends up a film that demands to be admired but cannot be easily embraced.
  42. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    May 25, 2011
    50
    Content to make movies for himself (Malick) that nobody else wants to see as long as he can find someone to foot the bill, he's also an iconoclast searching for significance. So am I, but not 138 minutes worth. Anyone seeking symmetry in this cinematic taffy pull risks emerging from it with a pretzel for a brain.
  43. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jun 16, 2011
    38
    Glibly put, this challenging time-skipping rumination is the big screen equivalent of watching that "Tree" grow.
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 516 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 80 out of 223
  1. Oct 16, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I rarely hand out a perfect 10 for such movies due to my harsh criticism on movies. However, master director Terrence Malick just earned one for his new movie "The Tree of Life". Simply, this film isn't just a masterpiece. The pure graphics (not with the aid of foolish CGI) and the luxurious use of cinematography as well as the slow, linear story may look equivalent to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey", but the film transcends Kubrick's masterpiece and redefines it with the a more personal topic; human. It presents us life, despair, and hope. Remember when we had troubled times, where we fought with our parents and rebelled against them, when we despised our brothers and sisters for their prominent talents, and when we felt God has abandoned us and left you in the abyss of sin, not lending you the escape rope? Such questions are asked in the film and despair floods within the tone. Director Malick determines to find the solution, starting from the primeval ages of life. Through the entire time, hate and collisions are only to be seen. The characters become blind of their surroundings and cannot see each other's feelings. Everything is lost; a dead son with a failed father is only to be found. It was then that the child, who has now reached to a point of experienced maturity, learns forgiveness of his father, joyful love of his family, and the true motive of God, smiles. "The Tree of Life" at this point ends as, with slow but vibrant colors, ascending into 'the universal solution', softly whispering to us that true honesty, forgiveness, and love brings back us, and...Life. Full Review »
  2. Jun 5, 2011
    1
    I do not know quite where to begin. My wife and I are college graduates, she is an attorney and I have done some graduate work. We read about this movie in the Austin paper on Friday because Terry Malick lives here. A lengthy article which only touched on the utter incomprehensibility of this movie. Malick may be a genius in the same way Jackson Pollack was: perhaps once someone tediously explains what you are looking at, you smile, walk away, but still dont get it. If you thought 2001: A Space Odessey was challenging, you are not going to like this. It starts with an overly drawn out Big Bang sequence, contains a dinosaur sequence fresh from Jurrasic Park, and closes with the end of time. I say "closes" because the movie is SO long, you think (and hope) it ends well before it does (several false closes) and then thankfully ends, seemingly five hours later. I wish I were more artistic and etherial and could somehow recommend this movie, which clearly was made for artistic and etherial critics, and those endless Cannes/Sundance/Toronto film festivals for an award. We ordinarily trust Metacritic's critic scores faithfully to attend or not attend movies. This time, ignore them and trust the User Reviews. Full Review »
  3. Jun 26, 2011
    1
    Perhaps since this movie made me think "please god let it end" for an hour, it was a religious experience. Otherwise not so much. This was the Hubble space telescope meets pseudo profundity. There is nothing quite so trite as overwrought emotion, and this movie is really trite. With access to the technology necessary it could have been made by a high school student - there wasn't an insight in it that most overwrought 17 yr olds haven't had. I wanted to see what the fuss was about so blew two hours; trust me and don't make that same mistake yourself. Full Review »