On the recommendation of some good friends, my wife and I sat down to watch "The Tree of Life" by Terrence Malick tonight. We had read the mixed reviews. Our friends even told us that people had walked out of the cinema during their showing. Now it was time for us to judge for ourselves. Part of the way through scene 4, when I was becoming absorbed by Malick's phenomenal cinematography, my wife told me something about the garage roof, and I feared that her attention was wavering. Nevertheless, she persevered, and, by the end, agreed that it was a worthwhile watch.
For a film without structure or a neatly-tied up plot, I was left with the feeling that I had been given a magnificent insight into human nature. Biblical references adorn it, including the film-maker's profoundly enigmatic and beautiful representation of Creation (Scene 4) and Eternity (Scene 23). I have to admit something here: I rather enjoy David Attenborough's nature programmes, and, with whole sections looking like something from "Life" or "Blue Planet" this really added to my enjoyment. For others, it might be a "what's going on" moment.
Grounding the action is the story of a 1950s family, headed up by Brad Pitt. The eldest of his three sons, Jack, played as an adult by Sean Penn, is left searching for meaning, after a childhood in which nature and grace, personified by his parents, battle within him.
If you like your movies pre-packaged with a neat Hollywood ending, this may not be for you; if you like a challenge that will make you think, and you enjoy the artistic side of cinema, then I heartily recommend "The Tree of Life".