The Tree of Life (2011)

by George Watches Things


Only 20 minutes in, a man and a woman got up and walked out of Terrence Malick’s newest film, The Tree of Life. 10 minutes later, another gentleman joined them. What a shame. They missed one of the most unique films I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience.

Admittedly, I didn’t understand everything. Far from it; I am fully clueless of some of Malick’s intentions and meanings. But what I did understand, I enjoyed very much.

I understood that this film (I feel like I should use another term because The Tree of Life was more like an experience) was very much open to interpretation, a double-edged sword when it’s tackling subject matter as cosmic as this does. But it pulls it off incredibly well, welcoming the title of art and the responsibilities that comes with it.

This is the part of my review in which I would usually inform you of the backstory or setup, but since there really is no story, I’ll skip that.

So, instead, here are some things that I gathered from watching it:

  • There are two paths in life. There is the graceful path (<insert Hunter McCraken’s “mother” voice-over here>) and then there is the natural one (<insert Hunter McCraken’s “father” voice-over here>).
  • These paths are not mutually exclusive, apparently. (No matter what, I was going to drop a “mutually exclusive” on you at some point.)
  • You are given alleles from your parents (I think I got that right), and as to whether or not you express certain traits… we’ll see.
  • There are no natural things in Dallas. This might mean that maybe Malick is possibly commenting on what could be a detachment from nature in today’s children. Maybe.

I love the way this movie connects what happened billions of years ago to the life of a kid from a small Texas town. I love the way this film honestly depicts a complicated family. And I love the way there is no one answer for this film. Please go see this movie so you can understand what is happening in my head right now.