The Tree of Life

User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 555 Ratings

User score distribution:
Watch On

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. Jun 6, 2011
    6
    I tried, but this movie failed me in delivering the philosophical message. Way too ambiguous. I appreciated the picture of life growing up in the 1950-60's, which brought back memories (especially of running around in the DDT fog, and how are we alive today?). However, the writer-director just never got me to buy the big picture questions of life that were supposedly under consideration.I tried, but this movie failed me in delivering the philosophical message. Way too ambiguous. I appreciated the picture of life growing up in the 1950-60's, which brought back memories (especially of running around in the DDT fog, and how are we alive today?). However, the writer-director just never got me to buy the big picture questions of life that were supposedly under consideration. It gets this high a rating due to the stunning visuals. Expand
  2. Jan 4, 2012
    5
    I can't criticise The Tree of Life on an aesthetic level - it's a breathtakingly beautiful piece of filmmaking. I can't criticise the performances either - Brad Pitt delivers his best performance in years playing a father of three who favours tough love, and newcomer Hunter McCracken is simply spellbinding as Jack, the eldest son (played by Sean Penn when grown up). I most certainly can'tI can't criticise The Tree of Life on an aesthetic level - it's a breathtakingly beautiful piece of filmmaking. I can't criticise the performances either - Brad Pitt delivers his best performance in years playing a father of three who favours tough love, and newcomer Hunter McCracken is simply spellbinding as Jack, the eldest son (played by Sean Penn when grown up). I most certainly can't fault the script - Terrence Malick has succeeded in forging a completely believable, utterly compelling family dynamic. What I can criticise is an over-reliance on religious symbolism, pretentious themes, a jarring, overly melodramatic score and a nigh-on incomprehensible final act. When viewed on their own, the stunning sequences documenting the beginnings of life on earth might have worked, and the same goes for the gritty, dysfunctional family drama segments that form the core of the film. When blended together however, these vastly different filmmaking ideas are a little disorientating, and you may find yourself emotionally detached from the film as a consequence. I can't help but admire Malick's courage, and his ambition, and soome elements of The Tree of Life certainly hit the mark, but as a one consistent idea, I can't quite get behind it. Expand
  3. Jul 25, 2011
    4
    This film had an incredible amount of potential. Every second of the preview did carry a great sense of intrigue. The reality is that, although one may consider themselves to be artistic, this does not mean that one can claim that their art is good. The film is hands down beautiful, the acting is incredible, and the concept is straightforward. The film however can not decide what it wantsThis film had an incredible amount of potential. Every second of the preview did carry a great sense of intrigue. The reality is that, although one may consider themselves to be artistic, this does not mean that one can claim that their art is good. The film is hands down beautiful, the acting is incredible, and the concept is straightforward. The film however can not decide what it wants to be. The scenes rely to much on artistic value and throw in very superfluous and archaic metaphysical scenes; accompanied with an historical scene of the origin of the universe. You may conclude that this movie is a horrible malformation of three different movies into one. Expand
  4. May 28, 2011
    4
    If you're idea of this movie is watching someone paint for 135 minutes, then dive right in. Granted, it's a beautiful painting, but it's tedious and you'll be relieved when it's finished. Details are irrelevant, this is a 30K feet film that masters students will toil over for generations. I felt like I had to counterbalance the film with some mind-numbing action flick when I was done. It'sIf you're idea of this movie is watching someone paint for 135 minutes, then dive right in. Granted, it's a beautiful painting, but it's tedious and you'll be relieved when it's finished. Details are irrelevant, this is a 30K feet film that masters students will toil over for generations. I felt like I had to counterbalance the film with some mind-numbing action flick when I was done. It's not that I don't appreciate the art of film, but I would like some semblance of a plot and a little less whispering. Bravo, but no thanks. Expand
  5. Jun 20, 2011
    4
    The latest from Terrence Mallick continues to solidify his rep as a pompous twit and/or brilliant filmmaker. There's no plot or dialogueâ
  6. Jun 27, 2011
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Wow. I had to create an account and write a review for this one. I really wanted to love this movie, but even with an art video background, I just couldn't do it. As mentioned in other review, the film's cinematography was excellent. I loved the space shots and the micros views of cells. But that's where the good parts end, I nearly burst out laughing when the dinosaurs were briefly introduced. I expected one of them whom was injured to gaze up at the viewers and say "Mother, Father... ". During this scene, one older gentleman ran so quickly down the aisle that he tripped and flew into the nearby wall! (Don't worry he was okay) I didn't want to leave that bad, but the whole movie was very frustrating and condescending. To balance it out, another good element of the film was that you felt like you were a part of the family. But that was also due to the amount of effort on my part, to try and latch on to something, to get my bearings, so I could begin to decipher this hieroglyphs of a film. Expand
  7. Aug 10, 2012
    4
    Stunning visuals here are ultimately undone by a lack of a story. The purpose behind film is to tell a coherent story and this movie fails in that most basic task. Instead, it unabashedly shoves and unappreciated message down the audience's throat.
  8. Jun 29, 2011
    4
    This was like two movies in one. It should have been about 45 minutes shorter. I loved the visually stunning parts in the middle, but by the end of the movie I was saying just end it PLEASE, but they didn't.
  9. Lyn
    Dec 26, 2011
    4
    The movie is beautiful -- not like "Days of Heaven" or "The English Patient" were beautiful, but like a well-done National Geographic special is beautiful. The opening quotation from Job poses profound questions that aren't really answered by volcanoes, waterfalls and dinosaurs. The brothers' relationships are touching, but the mother (Chastain) is such an ethereal presence that she seemsThe movie is beautiful -- not like "Days of Heaven" or "The English Patient" were beautiful, but like a well-done National Geographic special is beautiful. The opening quotation from Job poses profound questions that aren't really answered by volcanoes, waterfalls and dinosaurs. The brothers' relationships are touching, but the mother (Chastain) is such an ethereal presence that she seems almost lobotomized. I was disappointed that the gorgeous cinematography was done in service to mundane spiritual cliches and not in service to a coherent plot. Expand
  10. Jan 28, 2012
    5
    Like too many recent films it indulged itself too much and just went on far too long. It is undoubtedly beautifullly shot and I think I kind of liked what it was trying to say, but it's quite unengaging and with that it really drags. I enjoyed the first hour or so, but by the end the few of us still awake were fidgeting and asking if it would ever end. The beach scene at the end wasLike too many recent films it indulged itself too much and just went on far too long. It is undoubtedly beautifullly shot and I think I kind of liked what it was trying to say, but it's quite unengaging and with that it really drags. I enjoyed the first hour or so, but by the end the few of us still awake were fidgeting and asking if it would ever end. The beach scene at the end was mawkish and even the beautiful operatic score and natural scenes became tiresome. Expand
  11. Dec 17, 2011
    4
    Always trust the user reviews - 6.4 is not an achievement after 250 reviews and my score will drag it down further. This movie dragged immensely. Of course there is an underlying cosmological message - its named Tree of Life afterall - but it gets lost at some point. There is some art here no question but the critics set expectations too high.
  12. Sep 22, 2011
    5
    Winner of the Palm D'or in this year's Cannes Festival it would obviously be a film of undeniable artistic value. The problem is that this film seemed so deep that it became hard to understand. The Greek phrase applies: "What was the poet trying to say here?" Some breathtaking visuals leave an impression, but overall it was not my cup of tea.
  13. Jul 20, 2011
    6
    It's hard to rate this movie because I spent 2 hours in the theatre waiting for the movie to end, until the last five minutes I found it somehow touching. I mean, the whole symbolism is too much for me (don't get me wrong I like symbolism - that's why I like the last part of the movie), but in this movie it was somehow weird to me. I mean, if somebody ask me if they should see it, I wouldIt's hard to rate this movie because I spent 2 hours in the theatre waiting for the movie to end, until the last five minutes I found it somehow touching. I mean, the whole symbolism is too much for me (don't get me wrong I like symbolism - that's why I like the last part of the movie), but in this movie it was somehow weird to me. I mean, if somebody ask me if they should see it, I would say "yes, but you have to take a lot of patience, like A LOT!!!" For my part, I think I will never want to see it the second time, even though I agree that it was beautiful, and for those who want to watch it because of Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, you'll be disappointed! Expand
  14. Jun 21, 2011
    5
    I put off seeing The Tree of Life for a few days because I was intimidated by it. Would I be one of the people to â
  15. Oct 24, 2011
    5
    Visually stunning. The music is annoying. The black screen used to segregate action is so bad it's more annoying than the music. The script is lacking. Brad Pitt is excellent. Sean Penn is wasted. Chastain is left to do a bad Falconetti impression. I actually shut this off after 90 minutes and then went back and started again hoping to find something redeeming. The scene withVisually stunning. The music is annoying. The black screen used to segregate action is so bad it's more annoying than the music. The script is lacking. Brad Pitt is excellent. Sean Penn is wasted. Chastain is left to do a bad Falconetti impression. I actually shut this off after 90 minutes and then went back and started again hoping to find something redeeming. The scene with everyone walking along the beach finding each other was so contrived it just wreaked of self indulgence. Malik is a man of exceptional talent but this piece is more about his self indulgence than it is his ability to weave a story and paint and mesmerizing backdrop. The most interesting facets was that the film had an overall antiseptic feel about it. The only scene where there was a feeling of discord was the three boys in the deserted house. The DDT scene would only resonate if you had experienced the time when cities did that to eradicate the mosquito issue. Two hours of boredom. Expand
  16. Jul 8, 2011
    5
    The movie is visually stunning, as promised by the gives-you-shivers trailer. The acting is superb. Brad Pitt is flawless. So why the low score? Well, although all of the separate components of this movie are, in theory, good and sometimes excellent; when combined they become... confusing. I wish Malick had organized the movie a little more logically, so we could all appreciate theThe movie is visually stunning, as promised by the gives-you-shivers trailer. The acting is superb. Brad Pitt is flawless. So why the low score? Well, although all of the separate components of this movie are, in theory, good and sometimes excellent; when combined they become... confusing. I wish Malick had organized the movie a little more logically, so we could all appreciate the beautiful cinematography, the solid acting, and the wonderful story. As it is; it'll leave you frustrated and scratching your head. Expand
  17. Nov 27, 2011
    5
    This movie was gorgeous. Though it felt, empty. It didn't get to me emotionally, it wasn't the masterpiece I expected it to be. I left the theater trying to find the message this movie was trying to send, trying to find the moral of the story. Something to love about it besides it's masterful visuals. Though I couldn't. Maybe I'm missing something. This is a film I think I should seeThis movie was gorgeous. Though it felt, empty. It didn't get to me emotionally, it wasn't the masterpiece I expected it to be. I left the theater trying to find the message this movie was trying to send, trying to find the moral of the story. Something to love about it besides it's masterful visuals. Though I couldn't. Maybe I'm missing something. This is a film I think I should see again, though I don't want to because overall, it's running time was too much, which resulted in me wanting the film to end. That's never a good sign. Expand
  18. Jan 30, 2012
    6
    I think I need to watch this a second time. I remember when The Thin Red Line came out and I watched it on opening night in the theater. And I fell asleep it was so boring. But then I went again and cried my eyes out the whole time for the beauty of it. Maybe I'll have the same experience with The Tree of Life. The first ten minutes of this movie were as good a ten minutes as you'll findI think I need to watch this a second time. I remember when The Thin Red Line came out and I watched it on opening night in the theater. And I fell asleep it was so boring. But then I went again and cried my eyes out the whole time for the beauty of it. Maybe I'll have the same experience with The Tree of Life. The first ten minutes of this movie were as good a ten minutes as you'll find in a movie. But then there's another two plus hours to go, and I just don't know if one viewing is adequate to explain what I've seen. My wife and I landed on a one-word description: strange. Expand
  19. Dec 26, 2011
    4
    The film begins with a woman describing the two ways one can choose to live life: the way of grace and the way of nature. The way of grace is one in which you accept anything that comes your way, good or bad. The way of nature is self-centered and motivated by personal goals and interests. This sets the stage for the film, as we come to learn that hard-ass father Brad Pitt has chosen theThe film begins with a woman describing the two ways one can choose to live life: the way of grace and the way of nature. The way of grace is one in which you accept anything that comes your way, good or bad. The way of nature is self-centered and motivated by personal goals and interests. This sets the stage for the film, as we come to learn that hard-ass father Brad Pitt has chosen the way of nature; his wife, on the other hand, has chosen grace, and acts as an innocent bystander as life "happens" to her. The film is about a family in the 1950s. A father, a mother, and their three boys. We learn early on that their youngest son dies at age 19, but we never learn how. Or maybe we do, but I wasn't clever enough to catch on. The pros and cons of this film balance each other out, leaving me with a feeling of "meh." There were things I loved and things I loathed. The things I loved: cinematography - gorgeous, unexpected camera angles and spectacular lighting; acting: believable and relatable characters - a father who loves his children dearly but projects his dissatisfaction with life onto them. The things I loathed: the "Planet Earth-esque" intermissions, in which we are shown images of exploding volcanoes, kelp floating in the ocean, and dinosaurs stepping on each other's heads (I kid you not); and the little flame that sticks out of an all-black frame in the beginning, middle and end of the film. This push and pull of the film mirrors the nature vs. grace theme, and the dichotomy created in the boys' lives by the meek mom and the harsh father. But in the end it left me wanting more. It left me with one foot in the light and one in the dark, in a rather "grey" mood. If I had to rate the film, I'd disagree with IMDB and Metacritic and give it a 50 - smack-dab in the middle of the range. I think it had potential. And it bravely explored new cinematic waters. But it left me feeling robbed of some profound insight which I wasn't able to extract from a flickering flame or a 10-minute shot of a galaxy. Expand
  20. Mar 26, 2012
    6
    The movie is basically about questioning the world, why do certain things take place? Questioning religion and why god does the things he does? What is the overall purpose of life? Conceptually and aesthetically this movie is beautiful giving lushes imagery. Explaining to us that with destruction comes great creation and that this is the circle of life. However, where the movie falls flatThe movie is basically about questioning the world, why do certain things take place? Questioning religion and why god does the things he does? What is the overall purpose of life? Conceptually and aesthetically this movie is beautiful giving lushes imagery. Explaining to us that with destruction comes great creation and that this is the circle of life. However, where the movie falls flat is in its story. I felt as if the characters were not defined. I could relate to them, but I couldnâ Expand
  21. Jan 13, 2013
    4
    Just because a movie is filmed beautifully doesn't make it the best movie ever. A film needs a story, or at least some sort of plot. I tried to view this movie multiple times to find some sort of abstract or hidden meaning behind it, but I have been unsuccessful. Capturing only little snippets of a person's life here and there, then throwing in some dinosaurs doesn't make for a compellingJust because a movie is filmed beautifully doesn't make it the best movie ever. A film needs a story, or at least some sort of plot. I tried to view this movie multiple times to find some sort of abstract or hidden meaning behind it, but I have been unsuccessful. Capturing only little snippets of a person's life here and there, then throwing in some dinosaurs doesn't make for a compelling story in my opinion. Expand
  22. Jan 1, 2015
    4
    I don't know, maybe this film was just a bit too "artsy" for me? It basically felt like the director had found a bunch of beautiful space/biological/nature videos and wanted to fit them all into a story so he made a vague plot about growing up, evolution etc to try make it seem "thought provoking". Instead you get an absolute drag of a film that just goes on and on. It also seems like theI don't know, maybe this film was just a bit too "artsy" for me? It basically felt like the director had found a bunch of beautiful space/biological/nature videos and wanted to fit them all into a story so he made a vague plot about growing up, evolution etc to try make it seem "thought provoking". Instead you get an absolute drag of a film that just goes on and on. It also seems like the director knew there wasn't much of a FILM here so he tried to sell it with have big actors like Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in it. So overall, pretty boring and trying to be too much of a artsy movie. Should more have been a tv spot type documentary than a full film. Expand
  23. Nov 11, 2012
    6
    Why did I watch it?
    Came across this one after seeing it mentioned in Sight & Sounds 2012 greatest film poll. Although it didn't make the final list, 16 critics voted it in their top 10 greatest films of all time. That coupled with the fact that I enjoyed another of director Terence Malick's films, The Thin Red Line, made this worth investigating.
    What's it all about? Simply put, the
    Why did I watch it?
    Came across this one after seeing it mentioned in Sight & Sounds 2012 greatest film poll. Although it didn't make the final list, 16 critics voted it in their top 10 greatest films of all time. That coupled with the fact that I enjoyed another of director Terence Malick's films, The Thin Red Line, made this worth investigating.

    What's it all about?
    Simply put, the film largely chronicles the childhood memories of a middle-aged man Jack O'Brien (Sean Penn). Growing up in Waco, Texas, Jack is the oldest of three boys, sons of parents Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain with contrasting views on life. Pitt is frustrated with his achievements in life and raises his sons with a firm hand, in particular Jack, as he attempts to impress upon them that life is a cruel game that must be conquered through hard work and desire. In Chastain, the boys have a mother with a carefree spirit, happy to simply be alive amongst the wonders of God. In between the present day and the retold memories, the viewer is told at the film's offset that one of the younger boys died as a young adult in military service.

    Should you watch it?
    The Tree of Life is without doubt the most difficult film I have ever watched. I'll admit to watching this in two sessions as I stepped away from it after the first twenty minutes or so, frustrated with the lack of narrative and religious whispering behind scenes of light flickering in the dark.

    Thankfully, I returned to it later although I almost gave up again during the twenty minute sequence covering the creation of Earth and life upon it. This was like watching a nature documentary and culminating with CGI dinosaurs, I still question the necessity for this sequence. To me it felt completely detached from the 'the tree of life' that was the telling of the life of Jack.

    The film is edited to within an inch of it's life as some fantastically beautiful shots and imagery are interspersed between the scenes of the family's relationship. I believe the only person who will truly appreciate and understand the intricacy of the film's editing and imagery is Malick himself.

    A corner is turned once the philosophy of evolution is put to one side and the narrative (although still unconventional) begins. Pitt, Chastain and Hunter McCracken (young Jack) give truly excellent performances. As the oldest of three brothers myself, I related to the boys innocently running amok in the neighbourhood, usually going too far in their youthful exuberance and daring (and usually the younger brother paying the price!). I really enjoyed this section of the story, as Jack became troublesome and his relationship with his father began to breakdown to the point of him considering dropping a car on his head. Disappointingly though, for me the ending was as unrewarding as the film's start leaving my enjoyment of The Tree of Life a real quandary.
    Expand
  24. Jan 6, 2013
    5
    This Movie is a very beautiful representation of life and how family all interacts with each other. However, a movie hast to have a story and Terrance Mallick does not understand that.
  25. May 21, 2013
    6
    The movie was like watching moving art. It was the best visually pleasing film of the year. The actors were great as well. It wasn't the best film and didn't have much more other then that. This is why I give it a 6/10
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. 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.
  3. 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.