It takes a lot of sweaty balls to make a film as self-indulgent as The Tree of Life. I mean, Jesus Christ, Terrence Malick. I only made it through 38 minutes of your TWO HOUR, NINETEEN MINUTE MOVIE.
First of all, this film was seemingly shot by a 10-year-old who was bewildered at every fucking object he came across. That’s the only way I can describe it. Everything from the camera angles and movements to its aversion to looking at anything for more than five seconds before it we OH, LOOK ANOTHER PRETTY THING.
Speaking of pretty things, The Tree of Life is full of genuinely beautiful…things. I couldn’t tell you what I was looking at some of the time, but kudos for making it look like the greatest god damned thing ever.
The actual story centered around some family in the ’50s or something. The time period is a guess, but it doesn’t really matter when it took place. Or maybe it does matter, and I just didn’t “get it.” It’s hard to tell when you’re dealing with these kinds of assholes. If they pointed at a leaf with dew on it, asked me what it was, and I replied “A leaf with dew on it,” they would gasp and roll their eyes while telling me it’s the physical representation of their mother’s labor pains. Then I would tell them to go fuck themselves in a prison shower.
I also hated the opening of this shit pile. It narrated some crap about nature and grace, and, of course, nature was summarized as a giant crock, while grace got to be the most precious thing since whatever Malick thought about ten seconds ago. No, Terrence Malick, nature is not all about wanting everyone to look at you and admire you. That makes no sense, and you suck ass at stringing together a coherent train of thought. The content was bad enough, but just in case your hearing was your last functioning sense, Malick decided to do 90% of the narration through people whispering. Half of the time I couldn’t even tell who the fuck was talking or to whom they were talking to. Sometimes they were talking to God, but if I were God, I would never answer back. I’d want to teach them a lesson about articulation.
So…yea. There are also some dinosaurs in The Tree of Life. There’s an amaaaaaazing shot of one on a beach. In fact, it might be one of the best CG shots I’ve ever seen. It’s too bad, then, that the rest of the dinosaurs look fake as shit. Oh, and then there’s the fact that there’s no reason whatsoever for me to be watching any of them. Wait, hold on, I “get it.” Don’t worry. I have a couple reasons floating around in my head as to why Malick wanted to show the creation of Earth and all of its life forms. I’ll get to that in a minute; I still have to talk some more shit about the stupid dinosaurs. There’s one scene where a dino is laying on some rocks next to a stream. Its breathing is labored and it doesn’t look like it had a good day. Then another one comes running over to it and stomps its head with its hind leg. It lets up after a few seconds, then keeps stomping it, only lighter and lighter until it eventually stops being a prehistoric douchebag. After it decides it’s had enough fun with the incapacitated dino’s head, it just runs off. Alright. So…why? The meaning there escapes me. Maybe the dinosaur stomping the other one’s face is Wall Street, and, by way of metaphor, The Man is sticking it to all of us labored-breathing schmucks. Or maybe, just maybe, it means fuck all. I’ll go with option B.
Aside from the dinosaurs, Malick made, in my estimation, a colossal blunder in the very basic construction of this dumbass movie. He simultaneously tried to tell a story about human lives while going way, way, way, way, way (way, way) overboard in showing the creation of life in general. Here’s the part where I take a stab at what he was getting at. I think he wanted to show the creation of Earth as God’s handiwork, and he tried to show that it was all so simple before humans. It wasn’t simple in its construction, but more so in terms of what and why things were. If you run that theme parallel to the Brad Pitt story, things get a lot more complicated and shitty. Things happen that humans can’t figure out, and we look to the heavens for answers. When nothing comes of it, we have to wonder if God cares, or if there’s anyone even out there listening to our retarded whining. OK, well, I had one more guess, but I forgot what it was. Eh, whatever. My first one is good enough.
The main problem with what Malick did with those narratives is the fact that he combined them in the same movie. After watching planets fly around in space, volcanoes erupting, cells combining, and everything else short of Superman fucking Wonder Woman, I totally forgot all about Sean Penn and his moping-ass face. Then I was suddenly thrust back into the movie where people were on-screen, and I still didn’t give a shit. At that point, I had the thought that Malick should really be doing his own version of Planet Earth. Maybe get Sigourney Weaver or Richard Attenborough to narrate it. At least that way, I’d know what the fuck I was looking at for a determined stretch of time.
Another big fuck you to anyone watching was the omission of director’s commentary. When you’re dealing with a film so heavy in imagery, it would be extremely nice to have the person responsible for it telling you what was going on inside his melon head when he made it. In all honesty, I wanted to know how the hell some of the shots were pulled off. Tough shit, I guess.
That should be the tagline for this movie. The Tree of Life: Tough Shit.