The Tree of Life made me glad I sprang for an enormous tv and a good stereo. I can’t imagine seeing this film on a computer screen. This film trades on awe, and awe requires big picture and big sound. I think the studio will put this back in theaters for awards season. If you don’t have an enormous tv and a good stereo, take advantage of the theater’s setup and see this film properly.
Sean Penn’s a successful architect in his early 50s. It’s his deceased brother’s birthday. He goes about his day, but he’s lost in thought, reflecting on his childhood, his brother, his family, and life. That’s it – that’s the whole story.
But it’s powerful and it’s beautiful and it’s absolutely effective, and it’s so because director Terence Malick captures the perspective of childhood as seen through the lens of recollection. He uses vignettes and camera angles and selective audio to approximate how children see and adults remember. He weaves it with a meditation on life, and the meaning of life, that put me in a profound, meditative state and took me on its journey.
I didn’t cry during The Tree of Life. I didn’t laugh. Nothing blew up. But this film moved me, its marriage of music and imagery touched me, and the experience felt like the most profound time I’ve had at the movies since Woman in the Dunes.
See this film. Soak it in. When you do, go large.