Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 523 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick's signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 43
  2. Negative: 1 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    May 26, 2011
    In terms of scale, The Tree Of Life recalls the mammoth ambition of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," but it's also more intimate and personal than Malick's previous films, rooted in vivid memories of growing up in '50s Texas.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jun 2, 2011
    The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," and it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Wade Major
    May 17, 2011
    Aggressively impressionistic and unapologetically spiritual, Malick's long-gestating meditation on the meaning of life is, if nothing else, a singularly original and deeply personal film - a growing rarity in American cinema.
  5. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    May 27, 2011
    For all its flaws, The Tree of Life is a stunning exception to the rule that you can safely check your brain at the popcorn counter until after Labor Day. That's enough to place it among the year's best movies, or at least most-talked-about ones.
  6. 80
    After warming up with "The Thin Red Line" and "The New World," Malick has succeeded in fully creating his own film syntax, his own temporal reality, and lo, it is … kind of goofy. But riveting.
  7. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jun 16, 2011
    Glibly put, this challenging time-skipping rumination is the big screen equivalent of watching that "Tree" grow.

See all 43 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 80 out of 223
  1. Aug 27, 2011
    Malick is to be applauded for attempting to get out of the Hollywood box. There are various reasons he didn't make it on this attempt. Art has to have constraints or it just comes across as arbitrary or self-indulgent. Malick has learnt from the film greats (Kubrick, Weir, Beresford et al) that music and image work well in cinema. But that 's only part of the picture. The vision has to be coherent, and seen to be so. If not, where's the achievement? What was the p;oint of making art in the first place? If Malick's view of his work is 'here it is; take it or leave it', he'll be left holding his own baby. A little less showing-off and a bit more expertise in the art of film would go down well, Terry. Oh, and give us credit for knowing a little about the mystery of life, so we don't have to submit to banalities like those in The Tree Of Life. Expand
  2. Jun 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 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. Oct 16, 2011
    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
  4. Jan 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 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
  5. Jun 29, 2011
    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. Expand
  6. Jun 5, 2011
    This is one of the most over rated and underwhelming films in years. It is worst than "The Thin Red Line" . I got the message but I have seen the message delivered in other films. I have also seen the message delivered in a manner that makes you give a damn. Malick is a pretentious fraud hiding as an essentialist guru. I feel sorry for him and the casual film goer who will be sucked in by the glowing reviews. A.O. Scott of the NY Times should apologize for his review. Simply a disaster disguised as art! Expand
  7. Dec 4, 2011
    Shockingly self-serving drivel. As a scientist, I was appalled at the inane attempt to present a timeline of life (as pretty as it was). The movie "Adaptation " did it in one quick scene. This lunacy goes on for a period of time that truly made me shake. The awfulness is indescribable. The pain worse than an unanaesthetized tooth extraction. As a writer, I was incensed from the very first whisper (the whole slide show is in a whisper) with false spiritual music gnawing at you in the background.The narrative is accomplishable in 8x fast forward which is the only way I could watch this.These amazing actors were silenced by insane direction and muffled by a score better suited for a 700 Club infomercial.

    If a reviewer likes this film then they didn't watch it or they're related to Maleck. I was asked to consider voting for this film. I am considering sending it to my enemies.

    I wish I had a way to waste a Saturday night of Maleck's.

See all 223 User Reviews


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