Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

2012 Best Picture Contender ‘Tree of Life’

Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn & Jessica Chastain

Rating 7/10

You’re best to watch this film wearing a beret, with a bubble pipe hanging out the side of your mouth. It’s just that kinda movie.

Leave all your expectations at the door. Though this film screams ARTY, it is also intriguing and soulful.

How to describe the plot? Tree of Life centres around a family in crisis. We first meet Mr and Mrs O’Brien (Chastain and Pitt) and their dysfunctional family in the worst moment of their lives. Most of the film is set in the 1960s when their children were young and their marriage on the rocks.

Then the film goes cosmic. Up, up into the sky, the atmosphere, the heavens. Back to the beginning of time when the waters were being formed and light shone weirdly. There are some wombic shots and many whispers, questioning God.

Fast forward to modern day where one of the boys, now a middle aged man, still struggles with the loss of his family member. He looks out of the window, vaguely communicates with his workmates and wifey and floats, floats around his world seeking healing, understanding…?

Back to 1960s. Back to the father who instilled fear and dejection in his boys. Back to the wife that struggled to maintain a fun and happy home despite all the unspoken pain that hung around her neck like a noose.

Heaven scene, scooting back around the galaxy scene, more whispering.

Ah-hem. Yes. This is touted as an experimental movie and that is exactly what it is. The narrative is constantly interrupted with dreamlike sequences. The first half hour was incredibly frustrating. I was feeling rather impatient with this film. I love a good story so I found the interruptions annoying.

Perhaps if I was in a cruisier mood or had different expectations, I would have just gone with them, on the ride through life, time, existence. And I think that’s what I learnt to do as the movie went on. I became more accepting of the strangeness, sadness and whooshes of narrative.

This is a film that may or may not grow on you. A few days after I’d seen it, the film actually started to grow on me. I appreciated its difference and soulfulness. Not sure if I would watch it again, but I can’t say I regret seeing it.

Hmmmm. See for yourself and let me know what you thought! Be prepared for strange, though.

Tree of Life Trivia:

  • Budget $32 million yikes!
  • Won the Palme D’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival
  • The role of Mr O’Brien was to be played by Heath Ledger (Colin Farrell and Mel Gibson were also considered)
  • In Italy a cinema screened this film with the 1st 2 reels switched and no one realised.
  • In America, they had to put up signs to warn the audience about the strange narrative sequences. Despite this, there were many demands for refunds in the first week
  • No lighting was used in the house scenes. All naturalo.
  • Penn was critical of Director/Writer Terrence Malick. He didn’t understand the context for his character and thought that a more conventional narrative would have worked better.
  • The butterfly and the bats were not CGI but a real! Yay.
  • Jack O’Brien’s are initials J.O.B, a reference to Job story in the Bible.
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