Fox Searchlight Pictures | Release Date: May 27, 2011
7.0
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 615 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
414
Mixed:
80
Negative:
121
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10
CaitJun 26, 2011
Please, readers, don't listen to anyone who says this film is pretentious. It's challenging, but challenging an audience to think does not imply that a director is flaunting his intelligence. Perhaps those who call it pretentious are doing soPlease, readers, don't listen to anyone who says this film is pretentious. It's challenging, but challenging an audience to think does not imply that a director is flaunting his intelligence. Perhaps those who call it pretentious are doing so as a defense mechanism because they feel they can't understand what the movie is doing. I don't claim to understand everything that it's doing after having only seen it once, but that's quite all right, because I am thoroughly convinced that every shot, every single line of dialogue, every sound has been meticulously and brilliantly placed, and I'm sure that with more viewings the film will further open itself up to me.

The Tree of Life is a masterpiece, but the highly abstract and fragmented style of the film is uncommon in even arthouse films these days, and it's therefore clearly unwelcome. In any case, I implore you to see it, if only to remind yourself what film language is capable of.
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5 of 10 users found this helpful55
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1
gnomeninja123Jan 9, 2012
This movie was bad. It was like sitting at a table with a doosh who is trying to tell you what the meaning of life is- it's bad. If you say that you did not like this movie typicly people or "hipsters" will mentaly decide you just where notThis movie was bad. It was like sitting at a table with a doosh who is trying to tell you what the meaning of life is- it's bad. If you say that you did not like this movie typicly people or "hipsters" will mentaly decide you just where not smart enough to get it.... It was a waste of money... Expand
5 of 10 users found this helpful55
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6
Hawkeye_LoriJun 6, 2011
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 howI 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
4 of 8 users found this helpful44
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10
ZachBJun 30, 2011
Visceral. Wondrous. Beautiful. Maddening. It speaks to the inner depths in each of us. Terrence Malick is an artist, and a rare one at that. The best film I have seen in years.
4 of 8 users found this helpful44
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10
WPFILMSJun 5, 2011
Malick, who remains in a league of his own as a filmmaker of pure high art, creative and artistic excellence, epic heights of groundbreaking grandiosity, metaphysical transcendence, spiritual awakening, symbolism, and so much more...Tree ofMalick, who remains in a league of his own as a filmmaker of pure high art, creative and artistic excellence, epic heights of groundbreaking grandiosity, metaphysical transcendence, spiritual awakening, symbolism, and so much more...Tree of Life represents his highest note in filmmaking achievement. The performances along with the haunting visual aesthetics, mesmerizing cinematography, production design, editing are a wondrous feast for the eyes but more important remain crucial and vital nourishment for oneâ Expand
4 of 8 users found this helpful44
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10
putneyJun 18, 2011
I'm not the smartest movie goer in the world but I want a film to remove me from the moment, to provoke me, tittilate me, amuse me but absolutely not bore me. To this movie i say "so what". It's a 135 minute boring grind and all the giantI'm not the smartest movie goer in the world but I want a film to remove me from the moment, to provoke me, tittilate me, amuse me but absolutely not bore me. To this movie i say "so what". It's a 135 minute boring grind and all the giant positive reviews of the "legendary" Terrence Malick's new movie make me want to shout "by golly, the emperor's not wearing any clothes so why are all these sycophants singing his praises ?" BFD I say. You can miss this one. I wouldn't even rent the dvd. Wait till you can get it for free at your library. Rating - negative 4 stars. Expand
3 of 6 users found this helpful33
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10
canudoa9Jul 6, 2011
When the film ended I was sure of two things:
1) I was slightly confused about how I felt.
2) I had spent the last 20 minutes holding back tears. Its sparseness probably makes it confusing and boring for many but if you have any care for
When the film ended I was sure of two things:
1) I was slightly confused about how I felt.
2) I had spent the last 20 minutes holding back tears.

Its sparseness probably makes it confusing and boring for many but if you have any care for film as an art you will surely be left in awe. More than any other film I have seen in theaters The Tree of Life melts the border between screen and theater and creates one of the most emotional environments ever produced in a movie theater. The Tree of Life is the most overwhelming and pure meditation on human nature film has ever created and for anyone who is sometimes finds themselves confused or questioning just that, please see it.

This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest films of all time.
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3 of 6 users found this helpful33
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10
BhawkJul 26, 2011
Stunning. Mesmerizing. Powerful. Reflective. Gorgeous.Haunting. The most spiritual experience I've ever encountered in a movie theater and certainly the most innovative film since 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many (if not most) will be bored toStunning. Mesmerizing. Powerful. Reflective. Gorgeous.Haunting. The most spiritual experience I've ever encountered in a movie theater and certainly the most innovative film since 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many (if not most) will be bored to tears, whereas I was glued to the screen and am now in awe of the film's incredibly lingering impact. A shoo-in for Best Cinematography, and likely Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director, and Editing as well. This film is the very definition of film as art. Grade = A. Expand
2 of 4 users found this helpful22
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10
eddie1987Oct 23, 2011
I love it, very stunning movie, actors, amazingly cinematography, I dont know why so much negativity about this movie. I enjoyed this movie. Absolutely magnificent! One of the most visually pleasing aesthetic films
1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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9
Christopher_G2Jan 17, 2012
Honestly I don't know if five years from now I'll consider this the next 2001: A Space Odyssey (which compared to this movie is actually straightforward) or if I'll be wondering what the heck I was thinking falling for Malick'sHonestly I don't know if five years from now I'll consider this the next 2001: A Space Odyssey (which compared to this movie is actually straightforward) or if I'll be wondering what the heck I was thinking falling for Malick's pretentiousness. But my feeling right now is that I was enlightened by watching this movie totally unlike anything I've see before. It's one of the most visually astounding films I've ever seen, well acted, and incomprehensible but not in a frustrating way, at least not me. Don't try to understand it all, just absorb it. Expand
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7
FDT44Jan 29, 2012
More of an artisitic magnum opus, laden with symphonic fugues and transcendental phenomena, "The Tree of Life" is light-years away from one's conventional cinematic experience. Instead, it exudes an ever- changing amalgamation of family lifeMore of an artisitic magnum opus, laden with symphonic fugues and transcendental phenomena, "The Tree of Life" is light-years away from one's conventional cinematic experience. Instead, it exudes an ever- changing amalgamation of family life (the "movie") and the outlying visual sequences of the galactic cosmos via solar and asterismal alignments, as well as the terrestrial realm, shown in the form of volcanoes, fire, water, grasslands, and pasture. During the medial stretch of the film (about an hour), the latter journey (the visual sequences) will mimic one's experience at a planetarium, or perhaps a viewing of an environmental documentary, minus a top-rate actor's narration; if watching it on television, one might have the strong urge to check the channel. However, during this period, one of the greatest displays of cinematography is displayed, bolstered by powerful orchestral accompaniment, albeit not too aiding in one's attention. Despite such patience that is required from the audience during this time, once the "movie" returns, it is nearly infalliable. The film accurately delineates a 1950's midwestern family, and viscerally captures the everyday, unplanned, mundane life of the time: rough-housing, pre-adolescent boys playing in the grass with their dogs, wrestling in the tall grass pastures, mothers watching intently, arms-crossed to the discretion of their children outside a window, fathers kissing their children and wives on the cheek, brief-case in hand, before a long day's work at the plant, and the aestival sun browning the faces and arms of all under its path. Furthermore, Mallick instills the sense of respect and discipline set forth in the traditional household, "yes, sir," "no, sir." This is brought to life by Pitt, who rivals with his passive, ethereal wife (Chastain) for the respect of his children. The boys respect their father, and it isn't until he is gone (traveling abroad) that they see why. They (the O'Brien boys), especially Jack, prey on the mother's vulneribility: "I can do what I want." Although Jack proves timid amidst his father, out of fear of punishment, we learn he actually respects him, "I'm more like you...than her." Mallick's film is particulary accurate of the time, and easier to relate to, as it has no "carved in stone" plot. The events take place loosely, unrestrained by direction. Instead, the viewer sees an unraveling of normal, real-world events during one summer. Moreover, Mallick also instills the sense of paranoia of the time, as the viewer sporadically hears the sound of whispers, primarily from Jack, who speaks out to the various themes of the film: spirituality, compassion, regret, fear, anger, sadness, and wonder---all elements of everyday life. Also making an appearance is Sean Penn, who plays a middle-aged Jack. Here, we see he is a successful businessman in an unknown field, more-than likely in Chicago, and still reminiscing about his childhood experiences and the loss of his brother. Although his dialogue in the film is sparce, the viewer gains a greater sense of the appreciation he had for his father's efforts to "build" him into a man. Also, Penn's character manifests himself as much more contemplative than his younger self. Just as young Jack is more whimsical (as kids are), his older character breathes a more solemn aura as he now knows what he had lost and is fearful of what is to come. The reemergence of more terrestrial and galactic visual sequences now makes more sense in the film latter-half, particularly with Penn, as it points to the eschatological apprehensions people often possess with increasing age. It's not until the end, that we see older Jack finally at peace with his life and where it stands. Overall, "The Tree of Life," is fervently poetic in substance; gravitas that is never taken lightly. It is a thought-provoking evocation that few will truly appreciate, some will seek to understand, and all will never forget; its gloriously euphoric, but it makes you work for its beauty: hang in there, it's worth it. Expand
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8
jimmytancrediDec 19, 2011
The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick is brave and goes to the limit of the philosophical weights always pretentious and complex, through an intricate montage of images and sounds (yes, who knows what Godard wanted to do in terms of narrativeThe Tree of Life by Terrence Malick is brave and goes to the limit of the philosophical weights always pretentious and complex, through an intricate montage of images and sounds (yes, who knows what Godard wanted to do in terms of narrative language in Film Socialisme and failed miserably), we see the beginning and the end of life, from the the macro to the microcosm.

The incredible sequence of 18 minutes following the creation of life in the universe from the Big Bang to the simplest cell in the earth is a catharsis. Uncommon in the todayâ
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5
HalfwelshmanJan 4, 2012
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 favoursI 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
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10
ImprovisedDec 12, 2011
As is the case with all substantial art, this film's acceptance deviates from the mean--evident by the number of 0/1s and 9/10s on this page. I came into this film with absolutely no expectations. I had not heard nor read one word about it.As is the case with all substantial art, this film's acceptance deviates from the mean--evident by the number of 0/1s and 9/10s on this page. I came into this film with absolutely no expectations. I had not heard nor read one word about it. My dad (father!) left it at my house and I figured I would throw it in the DVD player one Sunday evening after reading the Netflix synopsis. Yes, I did see that it had Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in it, but that meant nothing to me, one way or the other.

I'm afraid to say, for fear of sounding like any other cliche art critic, that what I saw was nothing short of astonishing. ToL is an existential masterpiece.

I'm not sure how anyone can rate this move a 0 or 1 even if it was the most "boring" thing they ever had to sit through. It's as if they went into this movie with expectations that were not fulfilled and have therefore taken it personally. I can understand how this movie might not resonate with everyone, but does it really warrant a 0--as if to say it has no value whatsoever? It seems as if some of these reviews feel the need to overcompensate for reasons that have nothing to do film itself. I'm sorry if someone or some review duped you into this one and you didn't think it was worth your $10, but don't take it all out on the film. I'm pretty sure anyone can honestly find reason enough to give it at least a 3. It's not Troll 2 for crying out loud.
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1 of 2 users found this helpful11
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9
filmtrashreviewJul 15, 2011
The film is a religious avant-garde film trapped inside a narrative story line about a boy who learns the reality of life and faith. Sound confusing? Well it is but that is it's only flaw. Itâ
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9
TheDaveHimselfJul 11, 2011
First off, I've never seen so many people walk out of a theater during a film, and that's saying a lot. I've seen some real **** So it's safe to say that this movie isn't quite for everybody. I've seen numerous publications try to put thisFirst off, I've never seen so many people walk out of a theater during a film, and that's saying a lot. I've seen some real **** So it's safe to say that this movie isn't quite for everybody. I've seen numerous publications try to put this thing in a box by giving it the "movie" meets "movie" comparison. The best is probably "Stand By Me" meets "2001: A Space Odyssey". If you're interested in seeing this, get rid of all expectations because there simply isn't anything quite like it. Powerful film that tries to place humanity in this existence. The performances are wonderful, and Terrence Malick does exactly whatever divine being made him to do: Show you true beauty. Or, he just did it himself. Expand
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10
lahaineSep 4, 2011
I'm happy to call this Terrence Malick's Magnum opus. The Tree of Life is a thought provoking and symbolic art film; it may even leave one questioning how significant their actions are in the big scheme of things. Malick's audacious directionI'm happy to call this Terrence Malick's Magnum opus. The Tree of Life is a thought provoking and symbolic art film; it may even leave one questioning how significant their actions are in the big scheme of things. Malick's audacious direction paid off, making this not only a challenging piece of work, but also a wonderful viewing experience, from start to finish. Its arresting cinematography and visual effects are abstractly stitched together by master film editors; and its heavenly soundtrack keeps things flowing. Desplat's score was unfortunately demised by its under-use, in the actual film. The most effective and memorable pieces of music came, courtesy of, classical composers from way back. Also, this may possibly be Pitts career best performance, and Chastain illuminates as his submissive wife. I won't jump on the band-wagon and call this the best movie of the year just yet... and its surely not pretentious (as its detractors state); I do believe it will resonate for years to come (as its polar reviews also suggest). I'm looking forward to see how this does next awards season... Expand
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9
ZhangYimouJul 4, 2011
Terrance Malick always seems to excite my eyes with his stunning cinematography. Nothing feels stock about his films. I am glad to see a creative and meticulous artist exploring film, in all its potentials and possibilities, it is aTerrance Malick always seems to excite my eyes with his stunning cinematography. Nothing feels stock about his films. I am glad to see a creative and meticulous artist exploring film, in all its potentials and possibilities, it is a wonderful thing. I was overwhelmed and blindsided by this experience and a more compassionate individual emerged, which lasted at least until I got home 30 minutes later. Expand
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9
BelmsherAug 9, 2011
This movie is definitely challenging and one of a kind. It's becoming some kind of cool being pissy about it, saying it's boring and pointless. I cannot say I got every point but that doesn't really piss me. I made my own interpretations,This movie is definitely challenging and one of a kind. It's becoming some kind of cool being pissy about it, saying it's boring and pointless. I cannot say I got every point but that doesn't really piss me. I made my own interpretations, connected the pieces in my own way and this was what it was about. Totally different concept, totally refreshing experience. Sure you shouldn't give it a try if you're impatient or stressed. You have to dive in deep. This is a spiritual experience, not a mindtrap puzzle like Inception and stuff. Expand
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10
TheMudDoctorSep 4, 2011
What can be said about Terrence Malickâ
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9
FIlmsareawesomeAug 31, 2011
One of the best movies of this year for sure, the story was amazing, the way that Terrence Malick explain the whole movie through out pictures of life and nature, it was just delightful. Jessica Chastain really step up, I hope that she getsOne of the best movies of this year for sure, the story was amazing, the way that Terrence Malick explain the whole movie through out pictures of life and nature, it was just delightful. Jessica Chastain really step up, I hope that she gets nominated for an Oscar, and for the Cinematography, because those photographs oh my lord, that's what I'm talking about. " Unless you love, your life will flash by ". Expand
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10
EmmzDigzMoviezSep 23, 2011
Pure excellence. If you're a true movie fan, you'll instantly be engaged by the sheer beauty, the divergence (from ordinary films) of this movie. This is a movie you'll either hate or love. If you haven't watched it yet, I'd recommend notPure excellence. If you're a true movie fan, you'll instantly be engaged by the sheer beauty, the divergence (from ordinary films) of this movie. This is a movie you'll either hate or love. If you haven't watched it yet, I'd recommend not watching this movie in a cinema. You'll probably encounter "unappreciative" people who will walk out because of they can't comprehend the calm intensity engineered in this movie. This will probably distract you and ruin the whole movie experience for the appreciative. Best wait for the blu-ray. I loved this movie. It will touch somewhere deep, deep inside you if you let it. Many will complain about the vagueness and ambiguity, but I derive excellence from it. To let the viewer make their own interpretation is, in my opinion, very mature directing and puts Terrence Malick among some of the most thoughtful and skilled directors. Mind-blowing visuals and superb acting surely make this, without a single doubt, one of the best movies of the year. Expand
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10
jhr_cdnSep 26, 2011
A brilliant, brilliant film. It's a modern masterpiece that, yes, requires real work on the part of the audience. If you don't "get" the Judeo-Christian religious allusions and texts that make the questions in this film, it will remainA brilliant, brilliant film. It's a modern masterpiece that, yes, requires real work on the part of the audience. If you don't "get" the Judeo-Christian religious allusions and texts that make the questions in this film, it will remain incomprehensible, I suppose. The quote from the Book of Job at the beginning of the film (not to mention the sermon in the middle of the film) is a dead tip-off you need to bring some background to this, ideally.... Apart from the depth of meaning in the film however, it's also wonderfully executed: the acting is right on the money, and the cinematography breathtaking... just about every shot is perfect. See it in a good theatre too: you need to hear the whispered questions and recollections that form the narrative framework for it to make sense at all :) Expand
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10
vbuesoOct 1, 2011
Great inmersive film, a 21 century masterpiece. Terrence Malickâ
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10
brownbagitOct 12, 2011
I heard the words pretentious a lot from people that even gave this movie 100/100, and I don't think people understands what that word means anymore. I think cynical people just use it to describe anything artistic. I think cool/nerdy hasI heard the words pretentious a lot from people that even gave this movie 100/100, and I don't think people understands what that word means anymore. I think cynical people just use it to describe anything artistic. I think cool/nerdy has taken over as what people think of when they think of artistic and pretentious is what people who want to look like they don't give a f*ck call art. Even giving every benefit of the doubt to people that use this word, I honestly didn't see anything pretentious in this movie. He was trying to show how beautiful nature is when he used a powerful score. He painted a very realistic portrait of a family in sixties (his family?) texas. And took a different approach to it, using his own fractured memories as the narrative. I think this made total sense and an interesting way to tell a story. (Not to mention, I don't like real pretentious things either and this movie made me tear up in certain scenes because of the realism and the way it reminded me of my own memories) In what way was he pretending to be something he wasn't(pretentious)? Open a dictionary before you use words. And I don't want to pass judgement, but it's sad that when filmmakers try to do new and different things (Stanley Kubrik - 2001) they're always met with so many people who want to tell them how bad it was before those people even understand what's happening. Expand
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10
pobojcOct 17, 2011
Always amazed by the arrogance of "I didn't understand it, therefore no one could of understood it, so no one could have possibly liked it". Also, "people just pretend to enjoy it to act like they are smart". You know what? Any of you mayAlways amazed by the arrogance of "I didn't understand it, therefore no one could of understood it, so no one could have possibly liked it". Also, "people just pretend to enjoy it to act like they are smart". You know what? Any of you may very well be smarter than me. For instance, if you are a doctor, you are certainly more educated than I am. But I have been studying film for most of my 45 years. I admire Terrence Malick's audacity and I was knocked out by this movie. You didn't like or or understand it? Sorry for you. I did. And I applaud others who stayed focused and recognized its beauty and grace. And it's really not all that difficult to follow. Expand
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10
nicholas_danielOct 31, 2011
A completely unashamed reverence for beauty. Perhaps no movie has ever been so maddeningly ambiguous and yet somehow managed to provide an altogether meaningful experience. Maybe the film is shot entirely from Jack's perspective as heA completely unashamed reverence for beauty. Perhaps no movie has ever been so maddeningly ambiguous and yet somehow managed to provide an altogether meaningful experience. Maybe the film is shot entirely from Jack's perspective as he contemplates his life and its position in regard to all of existence. It is also conceivable that Malick is not so simply attempting to express his reverence for life through the eyes of an omnipotent being no one can fully grasp. The plot is labyrinthine. It begins in the present, rewinds to the beginning of time at unimaginable speed, and moves through time, slowing down for the genesis of the earth, then slowing down again for the small segment in the life of Jack, and then speeds up again toward the end of time in the reverse fashion. All of this culminates in a climax that could have you in tears at how unappreciative you have been of what you have. I thought about how I go through my day and how my mind processes my external environment, and I feel others will agree that, in an uncomplicated way, Malick has encapsulated the human perspective. Jack is not a computer processing bits of information bit by bit. He is a human being; one moment he is discussing his work with a co-worker who cannot seem to leave his private life at home, while in next moment he is remembering his brother along with the rest of his childhood. Every human, despite our attempts to focus for extended periods of time, is innately scatterbrained. There is a lot on Jack's mind, and it is impossible for him to go through a day without contemplating certain events and people, his brother, as well as himself, being the central focus. For once stream of consciousness is used in a way that does not cut corners. Information is not given directly to you. There are so few words and yet so much impact is felt and experienced from what you are seeing. Forget what you do not understand, because, after all, how much of an man's thoughts, let alone all existence, will you be able to fully comprehend. You know only what you can and need to know, and that is what makes Malick's film accessible, despite the lack of a coherent plot to some. In a world where my attention span seems to shrink daily, the film stopped me dead in my tracks. Malick's ambitious film may be the most grandiose and beautiful art film I have ever seen, but it left me feeling ashamed of my own insensitivity. I wanted to be a better person, if not for a god, or for myself, at least for all that exists, including those I care about. Expand
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10
GreatbealloJan 26, 2012
Tree of Life was a movie that I found incredibly confusing on my first viewing. Throughout the film I kept on wondering if I liked what I was seeing or if I thought it was rubbish. For days afterwards, however, I found myself reflecting uponTree of Life was a movie that I found incredibly confusing on my first viewing. Throughout the film I kept on wondering if I liked what I was seeing or if I thought it was rubbish. For days afterwards, however, I found myself reflecting upon the film that I had seen. It stuck with me. It penetrated my heart and made me reflect upon my own journey through this messy life. I viewed the film a second time, and found that I absolutely loved it. I feel that it is the most visually stunning movie to have been produced in years. It's definitely better with a repeated viewing if you can bring yourself to watch it a second time. Expand
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10
RasritterFeb 4, 2012
This film intends to answer the question: "Why are we living in hell, while heaven is here?" The long waited sequel to 2001. Once the viewer understands the visual metaphors of water and the sun, the movie runs at lightening speed.
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8
Critic2012May 12, 2012
The Trees of Life is not a film for the average audience. Most people would probably hate it. But Terrence Malick has outdone himself- the cinematography is fabulous, and the story is simple yet touching,
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