I went out on my own last Saturday. I felt as light as a bubble as I left home weighed down by only my small handbag, and I headed for the cinema excited but nervous about the film I was going to see: The Tree of Life. I knew I was going to absolutely love this movie. While the previews rolled I was already throwing around superlatives in my mind as I began to imagine the blog post I would be writing about it. The film started...
And I got bored. It's quite possible the whole thing went completely over my head.
And it went for a REALLY LONG TIME, which would have been okay, except that 1) I didn’t really know what the film meant and was tired of trying to figure it out, and 2) I had to be home by 3:30pm to feed my son.
“See you in a couple of hours!” I’d called breezily to my husband as I left the house, without even thinking to check how long the movie actually went for. There was a point (not far from the end, fortunately), when I thought, “This feels like it’s been going for a really long time”, and then I thought, “Oh dear, this is precisely the kind of movie that could go for FOUR HOURS!” and then I had to work out which was worse: Being judged by the classy people around me for checking my phone for the time and then possibly having to leave before the film ended, or arriving home two hours later than promised.
My heart raced and I broke out in a cold sweat as I tossed up my options. As a result, I have absolutely no idea what happened in the final scenes, but I’m fairly confident it was just as weird as the rest of the movie. When the credits finally did flash up, after the longest two minutes of my life, I suppressed a sigh of relief and then waited politely for about 13 seconds before bolting for the door.
So, a summary of the movie: the music was beautiful and induced goose bumps many a time, especially when played over dazzling images of space and water and lava and... dinosaurs. The acting was good, particularly that of Hunter McCracken (who plays the young version of the main character, Jack). Jack’s mother, supposedly the personification of grace, was airy-fairy and irritating, but I saw grace represented sweetly by Jack’s younger brother (he also looks just like a tiny Brad Pitt! Check him out in the picture below). The story was simple and not uninteresting, but woven through it were the weird bits, like everything involving Sean Penn’s older Jack. And did I mention there were dinosaurs?!
At no point in the film was I captivated to the point where my brain shut up, and my general impression looking back is “meh.” It’s quite clear I’ve missed something huge here, as people who know what they’re talking about are going nuts over this film: Margaret Pomeranz, for example, gave it 5 stars. It’s possible you have to be a fan of the director, Terrence Malick, to love this film. I’m not, and I didn’t.
My baby-free time is too precious to spend sitting around wondering if Brad Pitt’s wearing much make up or if he really is that old these days – I need films to immediately transport me elsewhere and completely distract me for a couple of hours. This isn’t a bad movie, but it did neither of those things, AND I paid $18 for it. Humph.
P.S. I’ve just found this review which I wish I'd written.