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Generally favorable reviews- based on 522 Ratings

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  1. Oct 15, 2014
    Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" is an ambitious undertaking on the creation, the life, and the death of the universe. It is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen, with one of the most beautiful soundtracks. The movie seems to develop around a family living in the 1950s Kansas, but it is more than that. It is the spirituality and the philosophy of all creation seen and expressed through the lives of these parents and their three boys.

    At first, it would seem like this movie is creating a wall between you and the characters because you rarely see them interacting properly. But it is the other way around. This movie aims to connect the viewer to the forces of creation, the power of nature and spirituality, in general. In other words, it is not about the people, it is about the elements of the universe, most likely the "nature" and "grace" which are represented by the disciplinary father and the forgiving mother, respectively.

    I am from Romania. So, in a way this movie reminds me of our national writer Mihai Eminescu's "Scrisoarea I" or "Letter No. I" which also represents the birth and death of the universe.

    Despite this movie's beauty, it is not for everyone. It is a movie which must be savoured with patience and an open soul, or, if you want, a spiritual soul. The catalyst for this movie's amazing creation scene, is the death of the son, which causes the time to go back before there even was time, all the way to the creation of the universe which starts on a galactic scale, then goes to a microscopic scale, and eventually it turns its attention to Earth, all presented with masterful cinematography and soundtrack.

    The end of the universe is seen as a desolate beach, where silence rules and everyone is meeting their loved ones, in what it seems an eternal walk in silence, but also happiness. This is the ending of the movie, a movie which is extremely abstract and, sometimes, unclear.

    Nonetheless, this should be viewed by anyone who considers him/herself a cinefile as its an example of artistry through writing, cinematography and music.
  2. Oct 2, 2014
    Short verison:
    Tie an hd camera to your dog. Set him loose in your neighborhood. Boom -- Tree of Life.

    Long version:
    But here's the real meaining of the movie.. cow. horse. crying. rain. let's play catch in the yard. Now let's have Brad Pitt sit in front of an old tv and grumble. Applesauce. Clouds. The sun. Wander aimlessly in a parking ramp. Wonder about the meaning of your
    kids. Who may have died. Next week. Squirrels and pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins. Speaking of which, I like vanilla. Expand
  3. Sep 1, 2014
    The Tree of Life may not appeal to everyone; however, this film is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful ever made. The film is visual as well as literarily brilliant.
  4. Aug 23, 2014
    The Tree of Life is one of the most beautiful and one of the best movies ever.Its something new,refreshing and so poetic you want to yelp with glee.Its clearly not for the average viewer because it requires patience and because its thought-provoking.Its just so unique (even though a ot of people compare this to 2001:A Space Odyssey).Its haunting me ever since I've watched it the first time.Especially the Creation part with Zbigniew Preisner's-Lacrimosa in the background is one of the most charming moments in the movie history.Terrence Malick takes some time to make a movie but if a movie is this special and elegant then I am gonna wait patiently. Expand
  5. Jul 25, 2014
    . This movie is worse than black people.
    Only Joking. No, seriously, this movie is awful.
    Brad Pitt's worst movie
    Sean Penn's worst movie
    Daniel Day Lewis worst movie
  6. Jun 2, 2014
    One of the worst movies I have ever seen. I kept waiting for it to get better, but to no avail. This movie spent so much effort trying to prove that it was some sort of artistic piece, that it totally forgot the basic element of entertainment. This movie is so different that I can see how critics view it as powerful or moving when taken as a whole. But minute-to-minute, this was flat out BORING. After the first 30 minutes I almost turned it off because I thought I was watching a National Geographic documentary on how the Earth was formed. And then after suffering through bizarre and nonsensical imagery, pointless scenes about a typical boy's childhood (OK, I get it. Boys like to wrestle and throw rocks), and absolutely NO plot, I was thankful when this movie finally ended. Unfortunately I will never get those 2 hours of my life back. If you want a movie that actually has a plot, is entertaining, or is actually ABOUT SOMETHING, do not watch this movie. You have been warned! Expand
  7. May 18, 2014
    I must say I realy like this movie. It's not predictable, has an interesting storyline, visualy stunning. It's mesmerising and poetic. The video that came to life. Pure art.
  8. Apr 24, 2014
    A masterpiece always has unique things, epic sides, original ones and unduplicatable. The Tree of Life is that case. This film is so poetic, stylish and beautiful. (One of the best poetic film ever made). The core of this film is the visual and its visualization. That the unique and original in this film. You will be confused and feel peculiar with this film, at least in early 50 minutes, you would say "What is that?". But, There is 88 minutes left to see and to understand. No wonder If this film called the best film in 2011. Expand
  9. Apr 23, 2014
    Well, this is certainty a love-it-or-hate-it movie. It's not that the movie is the best film I've ever seen, and I'm sure those who will hate it won't think it's the worst movie they've ever seen, either. It almost feels like an experimental film. It uses nature and beautiful cinematography to tell its story, and uses words less. It paints a great picture of life in general, and almost feels like 2001: A Space Odyssey in some cases. The actors involved give Oscar-worthy performances, the kids included. This movie is definitely only for certain people, and I am one of them. Those who don't like it probably didn't understand it; but that's okay, it's not supposed to be for everyone. Expand
  10. Dec 12, 2013
    incredibly boring is the second movie that made me left the theater (the other one being i know what you did last summer). It shows a philosophical way about life joining all the elements in the universe and earth. Boooring.
  11. Nov 5, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I begin by stating that I love cinema that isn't afraid to be different. I love to be challenged. But this film struck me as being self indulgent pretentious film-making at its worst.

    There is an outline of good story hidden in there, and one that deserved a far better telling; the story of a family falling to pieces and struggling to hold itself together...and perhaps a chance to explore how a tragedy affects these dynamics.

    Instead we are presented with some loosely sketched hints of metaphysics and ruminations on God. There is also an interminable section that follows the birth of the Universe, formation of the Earth and Dinosuar extinction very much like it was lifted from NatGeo (or lifted from Fantasia)...which I struggle to find any link to the story being told. Yes, they were very pretty pictures, but what purpose did they serve?

    On the positive side, the cinematography is stunning. There are truly breathtaking images, and even mundane scenes are shot with brilliance.
    The acting is amazing the whole cast inhabit the characters they portray. Which is all the more reason I am so dissappointed; this film could have been so much better.
  12. Oct 15, 2013
    The photography of this movie is beautiful, the plot too. Terrence Malick did a wonderful job, and the acting was amazing. What I like about this movie is that it isn't obvious, it makes you wonder, it's definitely not made for the common viewer. Like I said, beautiful movie.
  13. Jul 22, 2013
    The Tree of Life is a strange one for sure, it's a movie I find hard to fault because it does very little wrong, I only understood a bit of the story, and the rest went right over my head, but I was captivated by the films beauty. There's is just no denying how amazing this film looks, it is an utter joke that the film didn't get Best Achievement in Cinematography in the Oscars, the camerawork is just amazing and the whole formation sequence was just gorgeous. I'd take something like this film over a CGI fest anyday in terms of visuals. Then another thing that was amazing about the film was the music, it perfectly suited the film, an absolutely gorgeous soundtrack. The acting in the film is amazing, there's very little dialogue in the movie so the actors mostly have to just be emotional without talking and they do an amazing job. Then there's the plot, which people have argued that there isn't even one, but there most assuredly is, it's just very unconventionally told. It's disappointing that it's structure is so irregular because I'm sure there's a beautiful story to be found in this film, and I would have love to of found it, but I only found a fraction of it. Terrance Maliks ambitious vision may only show to the most patient and open minded moviegoers, but I still found The Tree of Life to be a breathtaking (and sometimes frustrating) experience. Expand
  14. Jun 13, 2013
    I felt like I was being punished to have to sit through this garbage. I thought I was going to go crazy just starring at all those meaningless camera shots. I could have thought of a hundred ways to spend my time better than watching this.
  15. May 21, 2013
    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
  16. Apr 16, 2013
    it's one of the fewest movies that i literally stopped watching after about 10 minutes only it's mute and boring i'm not a fan of these movies and never will be as a movie fan i like to see story that i can understand and relate to it call me shallow but this is how i feel about movies so i think this movie is for over-educated critics and sophisticated people not for people who seek an entertainment and having a good time. Expand
  17. Apr 11, 2013
    Oneiric and profound. Absolutely the greatest movie of the year.
  18. Apr 8, 2013
    I want to review this movie but because as I have just finished it,I am extremely sleepy.
    I am someone who gets very much intrigued by life and its spiritual meanings-but THIS has bored me to hell.I mean this shouldn't be termed as a movie at all.It's an philosophical educational ride.
  19. Mar 25, 2013
    This movie made me cry like a stupid baby. A word of advice before watching: don't approach it as a film but as a work of moving art. If you give the movie the investment it requires and have the emotional and spiritual clarity to receive it, you will be rewarded well beyond the gamble of a couple hours' time.
  20. Feb 15, 2013
    One of, it not the most boring horrendous movie of all time. It is so unbearable to watch that I don't even feel comfortable calling this mindless piece of garbage an actual movie.
  21. Jan 28, 2013
    The Tree of Life is a movie that really makes you think. It's not hard to follow and I wouldn't call it "confusing" but if you're looking for a movie to just simply watch and not analyze this is not the movie for you. The only problem with this movie is the fact that both the beginning and ending "artistic" sequences are too long. My only other complaint is that the movie could have ended several times but the ending sequence as I just said drags on for just slightly too long. This movie is lead by great acting by both Pitt and Chastain. Pitt playing the hard and traditional father and Chastain playing Pitt's wife and the emotional mother. This film also features theological ties and biblical references something typical of the movie's director Terrence Malick. Overall The Tree of Life is a good movie. It's not for everyone but I would certainly recommend it. Expand
  22. Jan 13, 2013
    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 compelling story in my opinion. Expand
  23. Jan 6, 2013
    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.
  24. Dec 22, 2012
    Without doubt THE WORST film I have ever seen. Do not waste 2 hours of your life watching this! It is utter garbage. If I were Brad or Jessica I would wear a bag over my head and pretend I was never in this film! I joined this site just to review this, so strong is my desire to warn others. It is seriously seriously BAD!
  25. Dec 6, 2012
    What is The Tree of Life? It's a celebration of life. It's a prayer to the one who creates all things. It's a hymn of reality about both the good and evil in the world. It's a reminder of who we are and where we come from. A true poetic masterpiece. One of the best films of 2011.
  26. Nov 26, 2012
    I can't even begin to explain how IMPORTANT this movie is, so I won't. I'd just advice people to watch it - it's necessary, especially for people who love Cinema. It's unique and has gracefully shaken my limbs forever, and I'm oh so grateful.
  27. Nov 24, 2012
    {Queue psychedelic music} ... "Why are there animated dinosaurs on the screen?" ... "Where did all the high-price actors go?" ... "Why did I rent this movie?" ... "Why did I wait so long to turn it off?" ... These are the actual questions you'll ask yourself when you watch the, "Tree of Life". This movie is less about following the "life journey" of a "disillusioned adult" and more about "testing the patience" of "bemused adults". Expand
  28. Nov 11, 2012
    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.
  29. Oct 21, 2012
    This is the perfect example of how movies can be works of art. What separates this movie from other pretentious, artsy films, is that everything that is incorporated in this movie is instrumental is provoking emotion, developing the storyline, and making the audience think about life. It proposes deep, philosophical questions, and seeks to answer those questions. It does so beautifully, to the point where the viewer is completely satisfied by the ending, and ends up actually feeling more optimistic about the world in general. The script is absolutely perfect. It's a great psychological movie, as well as a great philosophical movie. There are many different themes in this movie, whether they are just barely touched on, or if they are focused on throughout the entire movie, and each one is executed with absolute precision and subtlety, resulting in an unbelievably powerful impact on the viewer. This is the kind of movie you don't easily forget, and the kind of movie that will still be remembered in 50 years. Expand
  30. Sep 17, 2012
    The Tree of Life is the most wanky and self-indulgent film I

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
    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
    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.