"The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950's. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence." That's what it says about The Tree of Life on IMDB.com. I had to look it up, since I really had no idea what this movie was about. Sitting in a dark theater for two hours and 18 minutes, I felt restless, bored and often wished I was stoned. There's not much of a story, no plot and not much dialogue.
The Tree of Life starts out like a regular movie, where we watch Brad Pitt's family grow and he becomes a strict father in Waco, Texas in the 50's. But it careened off the tracks for me during numerous, very long, albeit pretty blocks of nature and science images. We saw trippy things like exploding volcano's, lush underwater scenes, dinosaurs hopping around green, leafy woods and giant, orange balls of fire. The stunning visual mosaics were pleasing to the eye, but quickly became tedious, since I didn't understand how they related to the story. There were many sunsets, with gorgeous colors of light, lilting off pretty buildings. The dancing women with pregnant bellies, starry nights and fireworks, all set to classical and operatic music, were nice, but it all became boring for me.
One of the sons dies, but we don't know how. Sean Penn plays one of the sons as a middle aged man, but I wasn't sure which one. He seemed very confused too, but I wasn't ever sure about what. It didn't make any sense to me. I kept waiting for something to happen to explain it or tie it all together, but alas; that never happened. I hate not knowing what the hell is going on. I guess I wasn't smart enough to figure out this movie. I went because Brad Pitt and Sean Penn were in it.
Roger Ebert called this film, "a prayer," and gave it four stars. It debuted last month at The Cannes Film Festival and ended amidst cheers and boo's - about 50-50. I didn't understand this beautifully photographed movie. I felt dumb that I couldn't figure out the link between the dysfunctional family and the exploding suns... life, death, birth, love, hate, UGH. Terrence Malik wrote and directed this self indulgent, esoteric dream. I'd say skip it and give it two stars out of five.