I liked The Tree of Life
I’m not going to rave about it being the greatest thing ever because OMG THE TROPES?! HOW ABOUT WHAT TERENCE MALICK DID WITH THE THREES?! THREE BROTHERS! THREE POINTS IN TIME! HOLY TRINITY, BATMAN!
I just know I was happy sitting there knowing I didn’t have to look for a plot, and enjoying the blockbuster quality heaved onto the shoulders of the disjointed art-house screenplay. I mean, it’s called The Tree of Life for Christ’s sake! It begins with an attempt to comprehend death; of course it goes nowhere! This is a movie trying to say everything and in effect telling you absolutely nothing (e.g. with condolences: “These things happen. Well, at least you still have the other two.”). And yet, somehow succeeding at getting a message across, whether or not it was the intended message (e.g. with condolences: “We’re still here”). In trying to comprehend the unknown, it is possible to come to greater conclusions about what you do know and what is right in front of you. I’m not a religious person, but isn’t that what prayer is?
I saw The Tree of Life in a near-empty theater, with the few people behind me ready to condemn it as “pretentious” or boring or aimless, people who supplied unnecessary dialogue for moments that were meant to be held in silence. People who’d answer their phones or make inane small talk because there wasn’t enough of it happening in the movie. There wasn’t enough of a plot to follow, so the best solution would be to retreat to your own. Talk about where you’re going for dinner afterwards. Or how much better Brad Pitt was in Benjamin Button.
It is in attempting to constantly break the silence–to draw a plan within a scheme that’s so vast and so much larger than your self or the tiny spark, within the endlessness of the universe, you call a lifetime–that you realize how arrogant it is to even pretend there’s an answer for everything, to think we can come to terms with the finality of death by understanding what happened. Two and a half hours later, it stops becoming about what happened but the conclusions you draw from what you do know and your acceptance of the things you’ll never find.