The movie The Tree of Life is an innovative and artistic movie, and like most innovative and artistic movies, it is extremely boring. The movie tells the story of a man who is remembering his childhood. He recalls his interactions with his free-spirited mom, domineering dad, two brothers ( one talented, one mundane), and the family dog. Since most people don’t go through their memories in a linear fashion, this man’s memories are not depicted that way either. The audience is subjected to clips of events, snippets of dialogue, and meaningless voice overs, which attempt to paint an emotional picture about the protagonist’s childhood and make the audience feel as if they are sitting inside this man’s brain; and while I can appreciate the artistic message this movie is trying to send, there is a reason most movies have a linear story line, it is what makes them entertaining.
The most interesting fact about this movie is how different the reviews from the critics and viewers were. While most critics raved about this film, their sentiment was not shared by the movie viewers. Terrence Malick created an original movie, but the originality came at a high cost. The cost of entertainment! The goal of any movie should be to captivate an audience, and it seems in this case, the movie was only created to be artistic. When art is made only for the sake of art, it produces disastrous results. A great example of this is the Mondrian Square. The painter tried so hard to get an original message across in his art, that he forgot that a painting is supposed to depict something that at least resembles an image. Although this painting is worth a large sum of money, and many art critics rave about it, most museum connoisseurs will admit that they get no enjoyment from looking at it. The same can be said about The Tree of Life.
Artistic cinema does have a place in our world, and that place is called a movie short. If the Tree of Life was only 30 minutes long, I would have probably enjoyed it (along with the rest of the people in the theater). Instead, after about 90 minutes of similar imagery and non-memorable dialogue, I was battling sleep. Perhaps I should have given in and taken a nap, because I’m pretty sure my dreams would have been more interesting.
When I came home, I had a flash back about a similar movie I had seen years ago. The New World, although it had a linear story line, also substituted dialogue with voice overs that sounded pretty but were actually gibberish. After I researched this movie on IMDB, I found out that is was also written and directed by Terrence Malick. I guess it’s safe to say that Terrence Malick has a movie type; He creates movies which are only enjoyable if one has a flask filled with 80 proof liquid.
I would recommend this movie for people who love artistic cinema ( and when I say love, I mean can’t live without), and insomniacs. Have you seen The Tree of Life, and did you enjoy it?