Movie Review - The Tree of Life

Movie Review - The Tree of Life
Brad Pitt in "The Tree of Life"

by David Schuster

... I have been going to movies for a long long time. And, in the countless movies I had seen over the years I had only walked out of two. The first was "Nashville" which the critics universally gave 4 stars but I was bored out of my mind. The second was "Gulliver's Travels" with Jack Black. Talk about stupid. I would have rather sat through a 19 inning game and I abhor extra innings. Well I have now added a third movie to this dubious list and ironically it's another critically acclaimed movie, "The Tree Of Life."

My review is obviously going to be incomplete but I was in the theater long enough to know it sucked. In a nut shell this flick is about a close family from the 1950's that loses their oldest son and then shows how they deal with that loss going forward. Star power galore as Brad Pitt plays the father and Sean Penn (years later) plays his grown up other son. But the basic problem is this movie is incredibly abstract. It jumped all over the place and fell back on narratives and photography. There was little dialogue and talk about depressing. Penn and Pitt were at their absolute peak of being dour.  I just couldn't handle it and screamed to myself for an escape.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I never read other reviews before seeing movies. You obviously can't avoid seeing how many stars a Roger Ebert or someone else gives a flick but I'll never read the body of their reviews until afterwards. When I got home from this movie I then poured over Ebert's and other top notched critics and they all loved it. Was I nuts?  But as I read their reviews I saw they all pretty much described the movie the same way. And I saw they all used the dreaded E words which will turn off most movie goers. Existentialism, Esoteric and Evocative kept coming up in their reviews. So then I went to the message boards and saw how the average person felt about this movie and my faith in man kind was renewed. From the average Joe the words were thumbs down big time. There I found the following: "Boring," "Complete Waste Of Time," "Tiresome," "I was cheated," and  "Are you kidding me?"

I walked out of the theater roughly half way through the two hour and twenty minute movie, and two of the people working there asked me if I liked it. I said emphatically "No," and we conversed for a few minutes. One young lady said she loved it because she is an artist (head scratching on that one) and that the photography was incredible. I told her that I'd rather go home and look at my old photos of the Grand Tetons or Niagara Falls. This other young man told me he liked it but fell asleep the last twenty minutes. I told him that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.   Whatever the case, this goes to prove that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe (just maybe) some people could actually like this boring esoteric pile of crap, but personally I need to be entertained first and foremost when I see a movie and this movie didn't do it for me on any level.

Again, I wholly admit my review is very incomplete because I walked out half way through but I've read from numerous other movie goers that they did the very same. I'm still giving this "critically acclaimed" movie - a strikeout looking - zero stars but I'll be curious to hear your retorts and I'm also curious what movies you folks have walked out of over the years. Let me know.

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized



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    Why is it a "head-scratcher" that a movie theater worker considers herself an artist? Do people with menial jobs necessarily lack intelligence and artistic insight? I hope I'm misinterpreting, but that offhand comment sounds a bit arrogant, and it's hard to trust your aesthetic judgment regarding the movie in light of that attitude.

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    I should add that I was inclined to begin with to find fault with your review because I saw The Tree of Life and loved it. It could be because I am a son, a Christian, and someone who has suffered serious loss. I felt the power and grace of the galaxies in Jack's small suburban moments of yearning, uncertainty, and desire for connection with his father. I do not consider the movie's sentimentality to be in any way naive, but rather life-affirming. As a former student of music, I also loved the soundtrack, in which two of my all-time favorite classical pieces (Mahler's 1st and Gorecki's Symphony No. 3) were used with striking effect.

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