NZFF: The Tree of Life

It’s a poem which only the poet can understand. Or a painting which makes sense only to the painter. I don’t pretend to understand half of what this film was about but that it is a great work of art is under no doubt.
Like all great masterpieces, it will and has divided critics, confused audiences and caused a bit of interesting conversation.

It should be pretentious, yet it’s not. It is earnest, heartfelt. Beyond the grasp of us mere mortals. But there is a simple message in amongst the metaphors. To love your children. I’m sure there is more to it, and that might come to me if I sit here pondering for hours, which one could easily do. But I guess that’s up to each individual viewer and I won’t extrapolate what others might discover.

The cinematography was stunning. The music grandiose and intimate – wherever one or the other was needed. The child actors put in touching performances, and for a moment you almost even forget that you are watching Sean Penn or Brad Pitt, but not quite. It might have been better if it had been unknown or lesser known actors in these roles.

My personal critique would be of the repeated religious references, but that’s a matter of taste or faith. Also, I’m not sure the film was made any better for the whole creation sequence. The dinosaurs were a little off to me. It was pretty, sure, but left little to the imagination – or too much perhaps. I’m not sure. Just didn’t sit right.

Overall, a beautiful film and I’m glad I watched it, but would I recommend it? Probably not. Which is a shame.

[On a side note, we only had a handful of walk-outs. Which is less than many reports I’ve heard. But more than most films. I guess some people would just rather watch Transformers 3.]


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