User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 547 Ratings

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  1. Oct 16, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand 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. Expand
  2. Apr 25, 2012
    9
    The Tree of life is more of an experience than a movie, and a very spiritual one at that. If that sentence alone scares you away from this film, then it is probably not for you. But if you are an open-minded movie-goer, that doesn't mind movies that ask you to think and analyze your own life, chances are you will admire this movie as much as I did. Some people who watch this film willThe Tree of life is more of an experience than a movie, and a very spiritual one at that. If that sentence alone scares you away from this film, then it is probably not for you. But if you are an open-minded movie-goer, that doesn't mind movies that ask you to think and analyze your own life, chances are you will admire this movie as much as I did. Some people who watch this film will get something completely different from it than what some else does. Whether or not your reaction to this movie is positive or negative depends solely on you, the viewer. It seems like most people who disliked it did not have the patience for it. Patience is one thing you need in order to enjoy this movie. The Tree of Life does not contain your run-of-the-mill movie plot, with typical characters, and typical situations. After the initial "birth of the universe" segment, the movie moves from one reality to another, from one thought to the other, effectively depicting the protagonist's thoughts and memories as they come to his mind as the movie progresses. The gorgeous imagery truly is something to behold, and the beautiful musical score accompanies these images well. I thought about this film for a few days after watching it. It had me analyzing my own life in general, especially my relationships with my mother, my father, my siblings etc. As a whole, The Tree of Life is a movie that truly is greater than the sum of it's parts, and is unlike anything I've seen before. Expand
  3. Oct 15, 2011
    9
    Way back in 1990, David Foster Wallace talked about how the post-post modern novelist might actually have to embrace sincerity, serious concern with ideas that he/she actually believed in, rather than embracing the universal, self-superior snark that he already saw invading TV (cf., for this reviewer, "Family Guy"). Haters of this movie confirm his view of the cultural drift toward scornWay back in 1990, David Foster Wallace talked about how the post-post modern novelist might actually have to embrace sincerity, serious concern with ideas that he/she actually believed in, rather than embracing the universal, self-superior snark that he already saw invading TV (cf., for this reviewer, "Family Guy"). Haters of this movie confirm his view of the cultural drift toward scorn (Colbert's scent... nyuk, nyuk!) as the predominant value on the InterWeb. Look, either Malick reaches you on the wavelength you live on, or he doesn't. I found the film to be an experience unlike any film in recent memory (though a grad-school viewing of "The Seventh Seal" c. 1990 comes to mind), and if it seems rote or (Chrissakes!) "boring" or (oooh, how uncool!) "pretentious," why aren't you mentioning some other film that you think even begins to address existential questions about life released in the last ten years? (You people probably hate the band Low, too.) Stunning, emotionally gripping, like nothing else out there. Expand
  4. Oct 26, 2011
    9
    If you seek a traditional motion picture experience, this film will leave you screaming for mercy.
    This film exists somewhere between a Bob Dylan hymn and portions of 'John From Cincinatti' without the humor.
    In fact, it is bereft of laughter but can engage a mystical smile from time to time. Whatever narrative exists delivers a message that erupts into mortal fears for those still
    If you seek a traditional motion picture experience, this film will leave you screaming for mercy.
    This film exists somewhere between a Bob Dylan hymn and portions of 'John From Cincinatti' without the humor.
    In fact, it is bereft of laughter but can engage a mystical smile from time to time.
    Whatever narrative exists delivers a message that erupts into mortal fears for those still paying attention after 90 minutes.
    If you have the curiosity and patience to explore evolved, spiritual ideals as formatted through the art of cinema, then you may have located Nirvana.
    This Tree is a flawed Oak that dares to incite, unite and disorient it's viewers.
    The Life that dreams inside this celluloid brilliance and darkness is a victorious disaster.
    And who doesn't enjoy a good disaster every now and then?
    My problem with the creation is that it takes many emotional hostages in the name of a spiritual quest. This style offers few answers to the most important questions it poses..
    Still, there is little doubt that Mallick has been blessed by a brand of genius that often eludes our zones of viewing security.
    But I'll be damned if he doesn't swing for the fences during the effort. If Terrance connects is totally your call. It's worth is beyond any critic's perceptions.
    That is how personal this journey is.
    From an acting vantage point, Brad Pitt does some remarkable things with the material given him.
    Sean Penn utters only a handfull of on screen words and given his public response to the film is lost as to why as the viewer might be.
    The only true star here is Mr. Mallick whose unseen face is written within every frame.
    'Tree Of Life' is 'Badlands without the active, murderous hearts. It takes us to a place we may or may not desire to be but are all a part of and subject to by virtue of birth.
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  5. Nov 20, 2011
    9
    Ok, first things first. All of the "college graduates" and people the that use words like "daub" and hated the film are Republicans. You can graduate from college with a degree in Turf management. Need I say more? Glenn Beck has stated on numerous occasions that conservatives do not like movies with messages. Now to the film. One reviewer called it poetry in film or words to thatOk, first things first. All of the "college graduates" and people the that use words like "daub" and hated the film are Republicans. You can graduate from college with a degree in Turf management. Need I say more? Glenn Beck has stated on numerous occasions that conservatives do not like movies with messages. Now to the film. One reviewer called it poetry in film or words to that effect and that description is perfect. I am not a person who watches Warhol films and calls them 'genius.' I will try anything. Hell, I liked Avatar AND Mulholland Drive. I couldn't stop watching this film. I had no idea what was going to be on the screen next. Very cool and the visuals and the soundtrack were hypnotic. It is certainly not for the average person or college graduate Republican but give it a go. It ain't Spiderman 53 but no one said it was. WOW! I'll give it a 9. Expand
  6. Nov 28, 2011
    9
    I don't know what to say. When I first saw this, I said "I can't really think of an opinion of this." Overall, I am giving it a 9 because it was a movie that definitely grabbed me, and i had fun afterwards trying to unravel it's mysterious. Overall, I think I have decided that overall it is an enjoyable movie. Definitely very complex.
  7. Mar 25, 2013
    10
    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.
  8. Sep 7, 2012
    10
    "The Tree of Life" is one of my favorite movies. There are one two movies by now which have reached a score of ten by me. It really changed and inspired me. The movie shows a kind of movie making which I've never seen before. It's a very philosophical movie and you need to have some certain attitudes about life, nature, science and philosophical thoughts. Honestly, if you don't think"The Tree of Life" is one of my favorite movies. There are one two movies by now which have reached a score of ten by me. It really changed and inspired me. The movie shows a kind of movie making which I've never seen before. It's a very philosophical movie and you need to have some certain attitudes about life, nature, science and philosophical thoughts. Honestly, if you don't think during this movie you won't understand it. And you need to think and give the film a chance to reveal it's individual meaning. If you ask ten people who liked this film what the film is about you will get eleven answers. That's usual for those kinds of topics. The movie builds a bridge between science, philosophy, theology and life at it's purest. Indeed, it's very pantheistic and that's just great. A film about life. Nothing more nothing less. Expand
  9. Feb 17, 2012
    10
    This movie is life. There is nothing else I can say: this movie is amazing.
  10. Jun 20, 2011
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Oh god, what am I doing here? This movie opened slowly at select theaters and we were eventually able to see it. Much of what you will see on the screen is like itunes screensavers with classical music and whispering instead of your tunes. There are two sad dinosaurs, one who crawled out on land too late to avoid being ripped open by hammerhead sharks and another that lays in a river and gets their head stepped on a couple of times by a Barneysaur with a big head and little arms.. Most of the men in this movie are either yelling, violent or deformed and the women are all like angels. The young Sean Penn character sneaks into the neighbor girl's house and apparently gets something nasty on her nightie because he tries to hide it and then throws it in the river. His mom looks mad when he comes home but they don't talk. His father (Brad Pitt) wants him to pick weeds and punch Dad in the face. Brad works in a factory but also travels around the world to sell his inventions and all he brings the kids are some towels he stole from a Chinese hotel. People whisper stuff like "oh god, what am I doing here?" and walk around on a beach in their clothes meeting the characters that played them as kids. If you think this makes no sense, try watching over two hours of it. This movie totally sucked and will be a flop commercially. Don't waste your time or money. Expand
  11. Jul 8, 2011
    10
    I watched the film. I waited a week. I decided it was the best use of film I have seen in a while. Poetic thematically and visually. What I find interesting is the controversy over whether this movie is good or bad. People have asked for money back, taken lengthy amounts of time to tear down the film or praise the film. The TOL echos the premier of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring butI watched the film. I waited a week. I decided it was the best use of film I have seen in a while. Poetic thematically and visually. What I find interesting is the controversy over whether this movie is good or bad. People have asked for money back, taken lengthy amounts of time to tear down the film or praise the film. The TOL echos the premier of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring but now people are shouting in cyberspace slinging accusations of intellectualism...elitism. During the film and just shortly after, i was on the fence about the quality of the work. It was after mediation of the words and the frames that I came to be moved over and over again. My response was emotional, visceral, not intellectual. I don't think most people go to the movies to be thoughtful or changed. Art is demanding; it requires the viewer to be uncomfortable, to be unsafe and to consider unknown possibilities. I am pleased to see people attempting dialogue about what makes a film good or bad. This reinforces my feeling that this film is in fact a artistic and spiritual masterpiece of the 21st century. Just as Jackson Pollock stretched the definition of painting and broke away from previous conventions, Malick is challenging the mainstream notion which defines film and more importantly, he offers a comfort to our suffering. Expand
  12. Jun 7, 2011
    10
    Absolutely magnificent! One of the most visually pleasing aesthetic films to be made in decades! The film is clearly spiritual and open for interpretation. You will either love or hate this film with passion. At least ... watch the entirety of the film, rather than giving up 25 minutes into the creation of the world.
  13. Jun 4, 2011
    10
    SMart PERSON: I trust in Malick. Thus, I knew this wouldn't be a MOVIE, rather it would be an experience. It is essentially a breathing series of paintings: walking, talking...thinking, that are meant to induce questions to which only the viewer himself can answer. Artistically speaking, Malick has created a stunning piece of cinema, unlike any filmmaker in history. For all mankind's sake,SMart PERSON: I trust in Malick. Thus, I knew this wouldn't be a MOVIE, rather it would be an experience. It is essentially a breathing series of paintings: walking, talking...thinking, that are meant to induce questions to which only the viewer himself can answer. Artistically speaking, Malick has created a stunning piece of cinema, unlike any filmmaker in history. For all mankind's sake, I hope it's not his last.
    MASSES: If you're wanting a car crash or going because Brad Pitt is in it...Good luck. With the rest of your life too.
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  14. Jul 4, 2011
    10
    What a powerhouse of visual effects to open up the mind to creation. The story and acting are just a vehicle to show that family life has progressed to the point where we, as humans, are shown as hard, competitive and brutal. But love and caring can still bring some attachments worth having....Malick's message is that no matter what happens on earth, God or nature has created this life onWhat a powerhouse of visual effects to open up the mind to creation. The story and acting are just a vehicle to show that family life has progressed to the point where we, as humans, are shown as hard, competitive and brutal. But love and caring can still bring some attachments worth having....Malick's message is that no matter what happens on earth, God or nature has created this life on Earth without any scientific proof. So, he takes this further by saying there's another world that was also created. He calls it heaven. It's all love there. Expand
  15. j30
    Nov 13, 2011
    10
    This is a hard movie to recommend to anyone. It's a beautiful movie that transcends the category of being a movie. It's flat out a piece of art.
  16. Feb 5, 2012
    10
    Terrence Malick builds life in this film. It is definitely a hard movie to watch and not easy to understand let alone comprehend. When I saw this movie I wasn't enchanted by the beauty of the special effects but by their meaning. It doesn't take a genius to understand it but it takes a graceful person to agree. To sum up, if the word grace has any meaning in your life then you willTerrence Malick builds life in this film. It is definitely a hard movie to watch and not easy to understand let alone comprehend. When I saw this movie I wasn't enchanted by the beauty of the special effects but by their meaning. It doesn't take a genius to understand it but it takes a graceful person to agree. To sum up, if the word grace has any meaning in your life then you will understand and love this movie, but if you are a closed person not willing to give yourself a new spark in life than this movie will be dull to you. God bless this movie and every one of you. Expand
  17. Aug 23, 2011
    10
    Tree of Life is not for your entertainment. Tree of Life is for non mainstream - patient audiences. Filled with religious and deep-meaning life message , visual treat, touching performance and powerful score make The Tree of Life undeniably Terrence Malick's masterpiece.
  18. Aug 19, 2011
    10
    My favorite movie of the year. It was totally different than I expected it would be but I left it being very spiritually and emotionally touched. The cinematography and amazing visuals (not using CGI) are amazing! Beware though it is not for everyone it doesn't have much of a story per se but rather attempts to encapsulate existence in its entirety. If that sounds appealing to you please see it!
  19. Aug 9, 2011
    9
    I think Terrence Mallick fulfils his career ambition through this movie. A man struggling between the origin of earth and meaning of its existence, these types of tough scripts are analyzed only by a few directors. These movies are called as MASTERPIECE.
  20. Aug 12, 2011
    10
    Terrence Malick does it again! This film is a visually gorgeous meditation on the meaning of life, love, grace, pain and suffering. It touched upon themes that many of us have been grappling with in our own lives in a manner that was sensitive, sweet and gut-wrenching, all at once. The visual special effects were outstanding, and the more narrative scenes with actors included numerousTerrence Malick does it again! This film is a visually gorgeous meditation on the meaning of life, love, grace, pain and suffering. It touched upon themes that many of us have been grappling with in our own lives in a manner that was sensitive, sweet and gut-wrenching, all at once. The visual special effects were outstanding, and the more narrative scenes with actors included numerous beautifully and acutely observed moments. I loved the Thin Red Line and The New World, and this film is every bit their equal. Kudos to the wise folk at Cannes who awarded this film the Palme d'Or. Expand
  21. Oct 16, 2011
    10
    While the movie is truly a magnificent sight to behold it is definetly not a film for everyone. If you're a Terrance Mallick fan you know what to expect, long ponderous existential dialogue placed over majestically shot vistas. The movies oozes with real angst (non-off that Twilight nonsense). The acting is top notch. Pit Chastain and the kid who plays young Sean Penn do wonderful jobsWhile the movie is truly a magnificent sight to behold it is definetly not a film for everyone. If you're a Terrance Mallick fan you know what to expect, long ponderous existential dialogue placed over majestically shot vistas. The movies oozes with real angst (non-off that Twilight nonsense). The acting is top notch. Pit Chastain and the kid who plays young Sean Penn do wonderful jobs emoting their characters. The score is incredible, one of the best of the year so far. The effects like the rest of the cinematography are incredible. CGI is kept to a minimum, and yet like the view is like neon candy for the eyes. This is the kind of film PT Anderson wishes he had the talent to make. Bottom line; if you like Mallick you will love this film. If you hate Mallick or like any of the Twillight films skip it. Expand
  22. Feb 11, 2012
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I absolutely loved this movie. Yes, I'll admit, it feels like you're watching a home video, but it would have to be THE BEST cinematography for nearly any given video. Nearly every scene was absolutely breathtaking. It's about life (as suggested by the title) and provides a beautiful metaphor for life. Expand
  23. May 28, 2011
    10
    This film gives you a breath of fresh air from what you're used to seeing dominate the movie theaters these days. It was very eye-captivating, moving, and something we could all relate too. There was one scene that made a couple sitting next to me reminisce on their own lives, provoking them to caress one another for that split moment. And that's what this movie shows: the importanceThis film gives you a breath of fresh air from what you're used to seeing dominate the movie theaters these days. It was very eye-captivating, moving, and something we could all relate too. There was one scene that made a couple sitting next to me reminisce on their own lives, provoking them to caress one another for that split moment. And that's what this movie shows: the importance of every moment in our lives. Expand
  24. May 29, 2011
    9
    Abstract. Visually stunning. Impressionistic. Made up of memories and dreams. The little things (that too often we take for granted) are what really matters. Definitely not for everyone.
  25. tjq
    Jun 1, 2011
    10
    This film is high art. I'm not going to pretend I fully grasped all of the complex symbolism and abstraction, but I left the screening in awe and my wife and I were clearly moved emotionally. Malick pushed the envelope and took a huge risk in making this film. He created a work of art and engaged the viewers in a discussion of grand ideas. One of the few movies I've seen in my lifetimeThis film is high art. I'm not going to pretend I fully grasped all of the complex symbolism and abstraction, but I left the screening in awe and my wife and I were clearly moved emotionally. Malick pushed the envelope and took a huge risk in making this film. He created a work of art and engaged the viewers in a discussion of grand ideas. One of the few movies I've seen in my lifetime that I can't wait to see again. Expand
  26. JMc
    Jul 10, 2011
    10
    Days after seeing it, I am still haunted by "The Tree Of Life". It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Watching it I saw my whole childhood pass before my eyes, and all the basic questions I have ever asked put before me. I knew the film would be long and "challenging" but I was not prepared how much of an impact it would have on me, even though I have seen all Malick's other films. (IDays after seeing it, I am still haunted by "The Tree Of Life". It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Watching it I saw my whole childhood pass before my eyes, and all the basic questions I have ever asked put before me. I knew the film would be long and "challenging" but I was not prepared how much of an impact it would have on me, even though I have seen all Malick's other films. (I watched The Thin Red Line last weekend - devastating.)
    I grew up in rural Australia (not Texas), with two younger brothers and two parents who loved us. We spent all our boyhood just mucking around like the kids in the film do. There were no computers. We went to church every Sunday. I don't believe in God anymore but I do always have the " Why am I here, where are we going, what happens next" thing happening in my head. I thought the film was beautiful and meaningful. Certainly strange and puzzling at times, maddening even, but isn't that life? Be brave and go and see it.
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  27. Jun 19, 2011
    10
    Holy crap. I don't know what I just saw, but I want my time and money back. I read the review by "brewster" and ditto everything said in their review. I burst out laughing a few times (uncontrollably, I might add) , but at least managed to muffle it.
  28. Jun 20, 2011
    10
    Due to this movie, I lost 2 hours of my life that I cannot replace. I consider myself to be perceptive, curious and smart however this movie did not spark any of those traits. Several people in the theater left after about 20 minutes. Those that remained often groaned as they shifted in their seats. When it was finally over we chatted with many people - all of whom said "what the hellDue to this movie, I lost 2 hours of my life that I cannot replace. I consider myself to be perceptive, curious and smart however this movie did not spark any of those traits. Several people in the theater left after about 20 minutes. Those that remained often groaned as they shifted in their seats. When it was finally over we chatted with many people - all of whom said "what the hell was that???".
    I can honestly say that it was probably the worst movie I have ever seen.
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  29. May 29, 2011
    10
    The Tree of Life is amazing! The images are so beautiful and the cinematography scenes are nice that gives wide angle close ups in each scene that the movie journeys to the world of life, earth ,atmosphere, and galaxy. Sometimes the story didn't get the idea that what's this movie is really about? I understand that this movie is trying to focus on those characters and the images that theThe Tree of Life is amazing! The images are so beautiful and the cinematography scenes are nice that gives wide angle close ups in each scene that the movie journeys to the world of life, earth ,atmosphere, and galaxy. Sometimes the story didn't get the idea that what's this movie is really about? I understand that this movie is trying to focus on those characters and the images that the movie shows, and I feel that this movie gets a lot of intention about things that we knew about the reality. This movie is very quiet, no dialog, no disturbing scenes, and no script, so I easily say that it's beautiful movie that brings good idea of art. Expand
  30. May 28, 2011
    9
    This is for film and art lovers. and it is also a film about being a Man and growing up a boy. Especially the periods of stealing things and destruction that all young boys go through. But it is mostly a master at work posing questions about the animals that we are and how we make each other feel and how we can be haunted for life by shame for who we are, who are parents are, and theThis is for film and art lovers. and it is also a film about being a Man and growing up a boy. Especially the periods of stealing things and destruction that all young boys go through. But it is mostly a master at work posing questions about the animals that we are and how we make each other feel and how we can be haunted for life by shame for who we are, who are parents are, and the animalistic actions and urges we live with. But we do have a choice to try and love and fight the inner nature of man. And Malick is trying to show how difficult that choice is to make on a daily basis because of how much the cards are stacked against grace and love. To me the ending of forgiveness and connection with the ones we love, nature, and strangers is the answer we all have to find to find peace, and then in that peace, there we can create our own beautiful universe of magnificent architecture. We can be whatever created this universe. He closes it on that bridge. A bridge we must build. Expand
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.