Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Tree Of Life (2011)

Directed by Terrence Malick
Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain

I saw this on thursday. I thought that I would go to it by myself and that would be cool. I knew it would be a bit of a gamble just turning up and hoping for a seat because this is like 'the film to see' at this thing as it won the palme d'or at cannes. i put salt and vinegar crackers in my car so i would be all set snacks-wise straight after uni (i was also planning on seeing guilty pleasures but i didn't end up going to that). at maybe 2pm i got a text from my friend Roxie who i haven't seen in ages and she wanted to hang out so i said she should come to the movies with me. also she had just come from prague and the uk (she is a dancer, she was dancing over there) so i wanted to hear about that too and see pictures etc.

we went to the movies. I really really enjoyed this film. i thought it was beautiful. what was kind of annoying was sitting in the very front row but i adapted to that by sliding down in my seat so i was nearly lying down.

The tree of life starts with a quote from the book of Job. I have a fondness towards the book of Job because my favourite poem 'the horse' is from that. it made me want to be more well read in the book of job. the whole film was structured in the way resembled a memory. I liked the present day sequences where sean penn just sort of stood or sat around. i think he only uttered five words the whole time. it was clearly the memory of his childhood. I thought that maybe they were malick's memories. it definitely has an autobiographical quality to it. A lot of the scenes seem really symbolic but in a really intimate and personal way like the one where a child is in an attic riding a tricycle in a circle and there is a really tall man who has to stoop to avoid hitting his head on the roof.

brad pitt piggy-backing the cute lil kid who dies.
Near the start, after we learn about the death of the middle child, the film leaves the narrative of the O'Brien family into this almost silent journey through space and time. this was pretty ballsy i think. it was quite a lengthy stray from the narrative and some people who i talked to about it afterwards said that it was drawn out and boring. i really liked it though. I found it had reflexive qualities - bringing attention to the art of filmmaking as well as being visually stunning. there was also a dinosaur sequence! cool, yeah, i know. Initially i thought something like 'of course yeah, the history of evolution, the dawn of time etc', but then a relationship began to emerge between two of the dinos. One was lying on the ground it looked sick or something. another one came up to it and stood on its head, not letting it get up. it didn't hurt it or anything though. it looked around perhaps to see if there was another dino of its kind or maybe predators that would eat it, and then ran off. this integrated the power dynamic and authority of control which i think was important when the narrative kicked back into life - mirroring the relationship Brad Pitt's character has with his eldest son. Brad Pitt is really strict and controlling, verging on the violent but the audience does not hate him i don't think because he is really good at the piano (also he is nice sometimes and wants the best for his sons in his cold, hard way). i found i pittied brad for missing out on opportunities to live his dreams. he gets fired from his job and stuff and takes his anger out on his family despite still loving them heaps.

me as brad pitt. massive ass jaw. thoughts ladiez??
another cool/funny thing is brad pitt's massive jaw. you think it is already big enough but then he pushes out his bottom teeth even more and twists his lips into a frown which makes him look even more 'masculine' and 'tough' and 'controlling'. here is my interpretation of brad pitt in 'the tree of life':

The freudian elements are hard to miss. the mother, Jessica Chastain is this beautiful, benevolent, graceful being, portrayed as even an angel. there is this bit where she floats underneath a tree. the son, Jack loves his mother, in fact when sean penn is reunited at the end with his family and others from his past the mother has not aged at all. maybe this is supposed to visually symbolic of 'her [inner] beauty never fading'. anyway jack wants to kill his dad there is a suspenseful scene where he contemplates releasing the jack (hehe) that is holding up the car brad pitt is working on, thus crushing him. he doesn't though. but anyway, he wants to kill his dad to be with his mum. he also breaks into a house and steals a sexy nightie thing and lays it on the bed. just when the scene can't get more sensual he runs away and throws it into the river.

i thought a lot about life and death and memory and the interpretation of events. that it isn't the event that matters so much as the feelings it creates. also that life is hard but we need each other. or something. i thought that if my child dies and my husband is emotionally cold towards me i would be really sad.

the end though i think was drawn out maybe too long. but maybe in some way it is similar to the way certain feelings or memories haunt us for a long time and never go away until they actually do and it feels good. i think sean penn felt good at the end of this film. i hope he did. i did.

the man next to me and roxie left his beanie behind so we gave it to the man who owns alice in videoland who was coordinating the screening. it seemed like a really warm beanie. i hope he found it again. i said bye to roxie and went home.

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