(or the most controversial review among my humble output)
Дървото на живота / The Tree Of Life - Many film critics, and especially Bulgarian ones (if there are any at all), are quite easy. Show them something they cannot understand, throw in a spoon of philosophical quotations (better to be from the Bible), put cool actors (one of them considered to be the most handsome in Hollywood, the other among the quirkiest ones) and they will all stare in awe. They will praise your masterpiece with all their hearts and brains. It also helps if you've decided to take the position of an enigma director, who cannot be bothered to be interviewed and comes out with a movie only once a decade. If we are lucky...
So here arrives The Tree Of Life, only the fifth movie in the long career of director Terrence Malick. It's a universal truth that Malick's films are not everyone's cup of tea. In all of his movies prior to The Tree, he prefers to show us stunning visuals and to inspire us with excellent cinematography, rather than with dialogue or any complicated script. In other words, Tarantino he is not. And here comes his latest, full of all of the above, but missing something very crucial - a story. The Tree of Life is so full of ideas, that at the end it loses its focus, its purpose, its reason to be on the big screen. It crashes from the weight of its own seriousness.
We can roughly divide the narrative into three parts, whose connection is completely lost - the dysfunctional (or was it functional?) family in the 60s in USA, the lost soul of one of the grown-up kids in a big metropolis and because this would have never been enough, we have 15-20 minutes showing us the creation of the world, with dinosaurs! It's like Discovery Channel gone terribly wrong! So, it's about the meaning of life and death, but it is also about the abusive father figure, the troubles of adolescence, the tough times in America, the connections between the siblings and so on and on and on, for 139 minutes. At one moment we have a dinosaur out of the water, at the next we have Brad Pitt being hard to his kids. And perhaps somewhere in Malick's mind there is a connection between the creation of the world and the stealing of a woman underwear, but, sorry, I couldn't get it.
Some will say, it's a movie about loss and how we handle it. Okay, but the director seems to have been too absent-minded in the editing suite, so we never learn what exactly had gone wrong in the life of Sean Penn. And as I mentioned editing, it's a movie which never gives a chance for the viewer to take a breath. There are shots after shots after shots, and everything from a different angle. If Malick has wanted his ideas, whatever they are, to be conveyed to the audience, he should have given us, the ignorant viewers, at least a moment to dwell over them. And if the director could have managed to focus only on the family part of the story, but still keeping his philosophical and religious propaganda, as well as his beautiful cinematography style, it could have been the movie event of the year. But no, Malick is so keen to show us the Big Bang. The Big Boring, if you ask me... And if this is art, it's definitely not cinema! (Tandem) *