Terrence Malik's TREE OF LIFE
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This is one of the most emotionally engaging films I’ve ever seen. I’m not completely sure why.
Maybe it’s because it doesn’t come right out and bludgeon you with the story. Part of the time you’re wondering what is happening and why. Things happen that don’t seem to make sense. Then, out of the corner of your eye, or just barely within earshot, you sense something that makes a meaningful emotional connection.
Maybe it’s a small thing like a glance or a touch by one character on another; just for a moment you see a spark of feeling jump across a divide, then you sense that you’ve just seen something very real and human.
Maybe it’s a huge thunderous image of creation that makes you realize you’re seeing something that no one has ever seen but that you are, in fact, connected. You are, after all, part of the same universe.
Maybe it’s the tone of voice and the emotional undercurrent of a whispered comment, as when we hear Mrs. O’Brien say, late in the film,
I give him to you. I give you my son.
I’m not sure I understand the entire narrative. There is a mixing of time and events that seem jumbled together the way memories are. I assume that’s intentional.
But it doesn’t matter. Life isn’t always just one thing after another. Our memories and the memories of others intertwine at times and places that don’t always arrange themselves in neat, easy to understand sequences.
Maybe it’s best sometimes just to move with the current and keep your eyes and ears open, all the while paying attention for opportunities to connect and share.
Oddly enough, that’s one of my main takeaways from this movie that, at least for me, somehow finds a way to beautifully balance intimacy with grandiosity in an almost spiritual way.
Review copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald