Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

06 July 2011

The Tree of Life

If you've read A.O. Scott's review of The Tree of Life in the New York Times then you do not need me to write a review of it.

Scott places Malick in the company of Walt Whitman and Hart Crane and Herman Melville. The film, Scott argues, "stakes out well-traveled territory and excavates primal, eternal meanings". The review is a slam dunk and the film is nothing less than visionary. It demands to be seen. And implores the audience to work at making coherent sense of it.

For my part, I didn't have much trouble allowing the movie's parts to cohere. The film is a delicately cubist (a descriptor which is overused and seems inadequate for The Tree of Life) exploration of a man's grief as he mourns the loss of his brother and asks important questions of god, the universe, his country, and most importantly his parents during this mourning.

The ending is absolutely perfect, and this is so true that the audience at the screening where I saw the film sat quietly while most of the credits rolled.

The Tree of Life is a Terrence Malick film, so I don't need to tell you it's shot breathtakingly, edited beautifully, and scored almost painfully well. Malick is the master. The film demonstrates an ability with form that is, I think, unparalleled in contemporary USAmerican cinema.

So: basically, you should go.