I don’t know what I can say about this. I sure enjoyed watching it, letting it unfold, and the crowd around me was rapt considering how much Malick asks of his audience. Wonder how I would have felt if I’d read nothing about it (as is my preference), if the long excursion into the cosmos that occurs roughly 1/3 in would have seemed even more shocking.
I was at a party last week and a woman was talking about the movie and she said, laughing, “My brother saw it and he said that he thought he was watching a movie about a family in the sixties and then suddenly there were dinosaurs running around! He was, like, what the hell?” Which is an entirely valid response, in my opinion. I have to say that, after one viewing, I completely dug the family story at the center of the movie and felt that the digressions were an indulgent distraction from what was a deeply moving story brought to life with astounding performances, especially Hunter McCracken as the oldest boy, Jack. That said, the reunion on the beach that ended the film brought tears to my eyes (isn’t this reunion the one that all of us who have lost someone dream of?), even as some rational part of my mind was arguing that it was another indulgence.
My friend Mat told me that I had to re-read the Book of Job in order to prepare, but I didn’t get the chance. Can anyone comment on the connection to Job? Of course, it is the mother’s question of “Where were you?” to God after her son’s death that sets off the long creation sequence (mirroring the quote from Job that opens the film: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation . . . while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”). I saw a much more direct tie to the Book of Job in the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man, though Serious Man was much more bleak and less enjoyable than Tree of Life. Loved Brad Pitt’s portrayal of the father; he’s a complex guy and a good father by all external measures, and yet there is something in his nature (perhaps in the nature of all men) that makes him estranged from those he loves most, from those for whom he spends every waking moment providing. Plus he’s a hell of a gardener. This is one I’m going to have to let sit for a while, and see again when I get the chance. Your thoughts?