Wednesday, July 13, 2011

THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick, 2011)

****½
USA
Terrence Malick recalibrates time, cinema and the universe in the shadow of one brother's grief for another. Memories of a sleepy small-town childhood course through a mechanical present and an abstract purgatory, following an amorphous emotional logic that gives way to an account of the universe's conception, and then to a tactile, incomparably vivid infant's-perspective of a strange, swarming planet.

So when Malick eventually settles into a linear, more easily graspable coming of age tale - despite the persisting poetry and vibrancy of the images, it's a little bit of a letdown. And it doesn't help that he chooses to cap things off with a slightly tacky conception of the afterworld.

But the overarching feeling is of flooding over the edges of everything you ever thought a movie could be. For days afterwards, the world looks new, invigorated.

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