100 movies: The Tree of Life

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100 movies of 2012

Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy!

The Tree of LifeThe Tree of Life (04/06/12)

A family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.

I honestly don’t know what on Earth to make of this film. I remember reading countless reviews singing the praises of this film. I also remember it polarising those who saw it too. I am in the section of those who saw it who just didn’t like it.

Actually, I’m not sure I can say I didn’t like it. As I honestly don’t know what to make of it. The narrative is non-linear and I’m fine with that, but watching the universe form and seeing dinosaurs and volcanoes just confused the heck out of me.

I know there are plenty of people out there who are reading this and thinking I’m a complete idiot. I probably am!

The second half of the film felt better to me. More of a focus on the family and the boys. I still don’t understand exactly why Sean Penn had to be in it. I understood who he was playing, but just didn’t think he’d need to be in it. *shrug*

There are some beautiful scenes. The framing of some shots are just a joy to see in cinema. But that’s all I could take away from this film. I just didn’t get it. It sucked away over two hours of my life!
Rating: 2/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

42 Films so far this year

  1. The Tourist 1/5 (02/01/12)
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 5/5 (03/01/12)
  3. World’s Greatest Dad 2/5 (14/01/12)
  4. Haywire 3/5 (19/01/12)
  5. Dead Snow 3/5 (20/01/12)
  6. The Artist 5/5 (21/01/12)
  7. Priest 2/5 (05/02/12)
  8. The Muppets 5/5 (15/02/12)
  9. Faster 4/5 (19/02/12)
  10. Chronicle 4/5 (22/02/12)
  11. Safe House 4/5 (24/02/12)
  12. Reservoir Dogs 4/5 (25/02/12)
  13. This Means War 4/5 (02/03/12)
  14. The Royal Tenenbaums 3/5 (03/03/12)
  15. Reign of Fire 3/5 (04/03/12)
  16. Dear John 2/5 (04/03/12)
  17. Road to Perdition 5/5 (05/03/12)
  18. The Three Musketeers 3/5 (06/03/12)
  19. The Eagle 2/5 (10/03/12)
  20. Everybody’s Fine 2/5 (14/03/12)
  21. Frankenstein 4/5 (15/03/12)
  22. Love and Other Drugs 2/5 (15/03/12)
  23. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger 2/5 (17/03/12)
  24. The Big Lebowski 5/5 (18/03/12)
  25. The Hunger Games 3/5 (23/03/12)
  26. Headhunters 4/5 (07/04/12)
  27. Super 1/5 (07/04/12)
  28. The Cabin in the Woods 5/5 (13/04/12)
  29. Watchmen 4/5 (14/04/12)
  30. The Hurt Locker 3/5 (21/04/12)
  31. Avengers Assemble 5/5 (26/04/12)
  32. 22 Bullets 2/5 (28/04/12)
  33. Bad Teacher 1/5 (29/04/12)
  34. Red Riding Hood 1/5 (04/05/12)
  35. A Perfect Getaway 4/5 (05/05/12)
  36. Ca$h 1/5 (13/05/12)
  37. Kung Fu Panda 2 3/5 (14/05/12)
  38. Everything Must Go 2/5 (24/05/12)
  39. New York, I Love You 2/5 (25/05/12)
  40. Beginners 4/5 (26/05/12)
  41. Prometheus 4/5 (03/06/12)
  42. The Tree of Life 2/5 (04/06/12)


  1. Personally, the only thing I liked about this film was the music, so you’re not entirely on your own in the “this sucked away two hours of my life” group of thought.

    • The music was beautiful, though sometimes I felt it was a little over intrusive at times.

      When I was watching I just sat there thinking, “But I like ALL sorts of films. I know i’m meant to like this but I just dont!”

  2. This is one of those films that is an oddity. Personally I loved it.

    I know it gives you VERY little to grab hold of, no narrative at all in fact, but the beauty of life just happening was amazing and intense to watch.

    Saying that though, I would never make my wife watch it as she would think it was pretentious rubbish!!


    • I would definitely call it a bit pretentious. I dunno, I have a bit of a problem with films where it’s making itself out to be more of a grand gesture… I’m not wording this well!

      I can see how it’s showing the beauty of life, loss of innocence, etc, etc. I can appreciate it from an artistic POV. Just did not get into it.

  3. …I have had this on DVD for a long while and still not watched it. I’m guessing you have to be in a particular mood…I’m not sure when I’ll be in that mood though!

  4. You’re certainly not an idiot. Each to the their own but I was with you on this. Lots to love (e.g. music, cinematography, some performances) but overall I felt it was a pretentious waste of time. Especially by the end on the beach! Urgh!

    • The beach scene had me so confused! At one point I thought I nodded off and in my sleep started another film! Though the beginning did that to me too.

  5. That was my exact reaction to this movie as well….and I’ve given it both a 4 and a 7 πŸ™‚

  6. I also didn’t like the movie, it looked beautiful but it was incredibly boring and long, Sean Penn seemed to be just wondering around.

    • He just kept going up in that lift and wandering around on a beach. But hey, least he got paid!

  7. I couldn’t stand Tree of Life. Aside from the cinematography and music (at times), I wasn’t a fan. You’re not idiot for not liking it. If the film can’t answer questions like . . .

    What is the purpose?
    What is it about?
    Where is it going?

    . . . then it has issues. Sorry, I’m fine with nonlinear approaches to film as well, but there were too many major questions lacking answers for me. That, and what the heck WAS Sean Penn doing in it? (Yes, I understood WHO he was playing, but didn’t understand WHY he needed to be in it either.)

    Silly, soul-sucking, time-wasting film. Just me πŸ™‚

    • Those were the kinds of questions I was asking myself throughout the whole film. I don’t think I answered any of them. Well, I think I got an answer for the purpose. Maybe. A look at life. Or the route in life we all take. Heck, I don’t know!

      Sean Penn was having fun on that beach, remember! That’s why he was there πŸ˜‰

  8. “I honestly don’t know what on Earth to make of this film.” Ahah, I’m sure you are not alone, Jaina. I appreciate it but I wasn’t wowed by it nor moved by it in a way I thought I would. The visuals are beautiful though, and you as a photographer certainly would enjoy those. Sean Penn is completely wasted here though, I know I’ve read some stuff that he was disappointed in this film. I guess every actor hates when their scenes are cut significantly, ahah.

    • Yep, the visuals were stunning. I was thinking that each of those beautiful frames would make an even more stunning photograph. Maybe someone should do screen grabs of this film and make it an installation at an art gallery. That, I might be a bit more excited about seeing than the thought of sitting through this again.

      I had no idea that Sean Penn was so disappointed, until you guys all started commenting on that fact. Did he not have that much of an idea of the finished product when filming? Guess he really wouldn’t…

      • Hey maybe you should do that with Malick’s movies, surely you can create a tumblr just for the visuals from his films.

        Apparently Malick has a reputation for cutting off scenes during editing without telling the actors, so I’d guess Penn should’ve been prepared.

  9. You’re certainly not alone on this one, Jaina. I found the film to be visually stunning, but it just dragged on and on… it didn’t really connect with me in the way I was hoping. I can definitely see why some people love it, but it’s not for me.

    • I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Maybe Jessica Chastain’s. Though, that was more sympathising with her, not truly connecting.

  10. I would never think you’re a complete idiot Jaina. Not… complete at least. πŸ˜€

    Its barely a movie at all. I thought it was genius, and I plan to do an in depth post on it one day, but its the type of thing where I would have to acknowledge that most people will be extremely put off by it.

    It takes all the typical conventions of a movie and discards them and basically paints on the canvas of the silver screen for two hours, leaving you to contemplate God and life.

    I appreciate not being given the answers at times. πŸ˜€

    • I do too – I don’t need everything spelt out to me. But I just didn’t think this film had any sort of momentum or direction.

      This film did leave me contemplating life – that I must never waste my life for such films again!

      Though I do look forward to your write up on this. Be interested to read your take.

  11. I haven’t seen this. Maybe Icould enjoy it for the photography? Anyway, I finally saw Avengers yesterday. My inner geek has been smiling ever since. πŸ˜‰

  12. This film totally took me off guard by how stunningly beautiful and engrossing it was with its story and visuals. Great performances, too even though I wish I saw more of Sean Penn considering his story could have been a little bit more developed. You know, him as an adult and less about dinosaurs.

  13. I know how you feel about not knowing what to make of it. It took several conversations with my wife about it to decide that I did enjoy it. It’s definitely pretentious and I’m not sure I’d ever want to see it again, but as a cinematic experience I enjoyed it, and the brilliantly named Hunter McCracken was great. Not for everyone though.

    • Ahhh… I forgot about Hunter McCracken. I was too bogged down in the rest of the film!

      I do like that this film has brought about such epically different points of views and conversation on it just keeps on going.

  14. That’s too bad. I guess Tree of Life is not for everyone. I loved it. Perhaps if you saw the film at the cinema, as I did, it would work better, who knows.

    I can understand you don’t know what to make of it. The thing is , how do you critique a film that will mean something different to everyone who watches?

    • The same could be said about any sort of critiquing – whether it’s film, TV, music, theatre – everyone takes away something different from all of these mediums.

      Maybe the cinematical experience would have been better. Though, can’t say I’d be rushing to see it on the big screen if the chance did arise.

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