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The Tree of Life

by

Jeff Nelson

I recommend it solely to those who enjoy this philosophical and slow-paced filmmaking.

The Tree of Life
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Every once in a while, there are a few movies released where audiences wonder why critics raved about certain films. The Tree of Life was definitely hyped by film festival goers and critics alike. After all of this buzz, I wouldn't be surprised to see the film receive one or more nods from the Academy. The audiences who have different opinions view The Tree of Life extremely differently. They describe this film as a long, dull, and flat flick that never pulled them in. I haven't heard very many opinions from viewers or critics who were somewhere in between. This is certainly where I fall. The story of a Midwestern family in the 1950's follows the life journey of the oldest son, Jack, through his childhood to his adult years as he attempts to reunite with his complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. The actual plot may confuse some moviegoers. The filmmakers left a lot open for interpretation. Direct answers aren't given. The first half of the film is composed of many images and short clips that some viewers may see as random. Let me assure you that none of it is random and all of it connects with the family in the 1950's. The Tree of Life says a lot about the evolution of life, although it's flawed. Not only is the movie long, but it drags quite a bit. The film asks for a large amount of patience from its viewers. There were times that I zoned out a bit and had to rewind. It feels as if the filmmakers put a lot of effort into immersing the audience with photography and surround sound, but forgot to engross us in the film itself. I suppose this is the reason why the movie received a limited release into theaters. This simply isn't a mainstream film.

The film's poster boasts two big names from the cast. Those actors are Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Brad Pitt is excellent as Mr. O'Brien. This is a very different role for him, yet he nailed it. Sean Penn is barely even in the movie, so don't see this film expecting to see a ground-breaking performance by him. Jessica Chastain does a good job performing as Mrs. O'Brien. The acting is overall quite good and is sure to please fans of cinema.

I can easily say that the most impressive element of The Tree of Life is the visual department. The photography displayed throughout is absolutely phenomenal. Expect to be completely and absolutely immersed by the superb photography and camerawork. However, there's one sequence that sticks out like a sore thumb. The Tree of Life goes back to the time of the dinosaurs for a short time and the visuals are poor. The CGI dinosaurs look very fake, especially as they're placed with their environment. Otherwise, the rest of the movie is absolutely breathtaking in the visual department. The audio is just as great, if not more impressive. Follow the disclaimer before the film and crank up the sound to experience the movie as it was meant to be viewed. The dialogue is exceptionally clear as the surrounds are filled with ambiance and gusts of wind. The subwoofer is sure to shake the foundation on multiple occasions. Not only is this track loud, but it's extraordinarily clear. The Tree of Life boasts beautiful visuals.

Those who decide to read deeper into The Tree of Life could get into a discussion that could lost hours. This film has so many ways to interpret the meaning of the story. Unfortunately, it's extremely hard to be excited about this movie while watching it. While the visuals are brilliant and the acting is great, there are a lot of issues with the movie. Many viewers are sure to be impatient and simply eject the disc due to how slow it moves along. The Tree of Life won't be watched again by me, but I recommend it solely to those who enjoy this philosophical and slow-paced filmmaking.

My Rating = Three Stars

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