I have to admit, I was hesitant to see "The Tree of Life." It screamed artsy-fartsy in its trailers and reviews, and I'm just not that kind of audience. See "Bridesmaids" for the third time, instead? Yes, please!
But I did it. I sat through "The Tree of Life." ...And loved it.
Yes, it was slow in parts. Yes, it had poetic imagery that got kind of hilarious (wait for the wide shot of sunflowers...I burst out laughing). On the 10th shot of outer space, I thought, "what is going on here?!" Don't get me started on the dinosaurs...yes, you heard me right.
But, Here's What I Loved --
We all get to see it
This was clearly Terrence Malick's passion project and it was incredibly personal. I could feel everything with him. Malick, the director and writer, got away with a film that is just not distributed in mainstream America. I'm sure Brad Pitt and Sean Penn had a little hand in getting it out there, and I do live in Los Angeles (we're a "different" audience). But the film was bold in its storytelling. I was impressed. Yes, Malick, you made a film student impressed by your work! Malick made a film that is just so bold, and he gets to share it with a bigger audience, not just festivals.
The editing and storytelling challenged the audience to come up with their own conclusion. I had to interpret the collection of shots, rather than the storyteller telling me how to feel. Granted, there were a few times ("I give you my son") where I knew Malick was saying..."in case you weren't sure...here you go." But for the most part, I got to tell the story with him. Did I interpret every shot as the filmmaker intended? Definitely not, but it didn't matter. I felt like he trusted me.
The boys growing up and discovering the world was so clear. When Jack first met his younger brother, we held on the child's eyes, and we really saw that discovery with him. It wasn't a Medium Shot, and then a Close Up, where we think "Oh, the child is discovering his new brother." We held, and discovered the story within the frame, with the little boy. Again, Malick didn't treat his audience like idiots. He didn't need to push us to figure out the story. ...Ugh, loved it!
The film reminded me of when I grew up. Every emotion is heightened, especially when felt for the first time. And this film brought back all of those memories. I wanted so badly to run outside and play "Kick the Can" on Sunset Blvd.
Cinematography = Gorgeous
The cinematography was gorgeous. You'll figure that out right away. And then you'll start figuring out how those shots tell the story.
This movie was a series of close ups and low angle shots. We watched the characters make decisions. We watched their emotions get the better of them. It was intelligent and treated me as such.
When Jack learns to walk, you'll find yourself laughing out loud and just so proud of the little boy!
My biggest note on this film is its interaction with the audience. Again, Malick trusts us to interpret his film. There's no force, no pushing. Just showing.
So there you have it. Promise me that you'll allow yourself to be grabbed by the film. Work through the giggles and eye rolls that may come up as you watch the series of "pretty shots." (you'll figure out what I mean). Just open your eyes and feel the rhythm.