Iffy for 13+
Unique, difficult, poetic masterpiece about life and death.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, even more so than his previous movies, this drama from legendary and elusive director Terrence Malick is a work of poetic images rather than a cohesive, solid story. The main theme seems to be family relationships, but it all takes place within a huge universal context of infinite time, space, and even dreamscapes. There's the suggestion of simmering violence on the part of the father, but while he often yells, he very rarely lashes out physically. Language is minimal; a flashback sequence contains passing visual references to sexual reproduction. But even though there's not a huge amount of age-inappropriate content for teens, younger viewers are likely to be bored; this movie requires a great deal of patience and the ability to embrace new and unique cinematic encounters.
- Families can talk about the film's underlying violence. Why is the father so angry and frustrated? How does he express it, and why?
- What does the grown son actually learn during his quest? Does the movie have a happy, or hopeful, ending?
- Who do you think this movie is intended to appeal to? What message is it trying to convey to its audience?
The good stuff
Messages: The movie wrestles with some big and universal themes. The kids begin to behave badly, mainly in response to their father's all-encompassing anger and frustration. But when one grows up, he begins to realize that all things are connected, specifically families and nature. In a kind of dream/fantasy sequence, he learns empathy and tolerance for his family. In general, all of these themes -- and others -- are not literally outlined. They're up for interpretation and debate.
Role models: Certainly the father is no role model. He's bitter and miserable and takes out his frustrations on his family. He keeps preaching that, to get ahead in the world, you have to be ruthless. His oldest son, Jack, struggles with these teachings his whole life, but in the end -- in a kind of dream/fantasy sequence -- he seems to reconnect with his family and find a kind of inner peace, though this revelation is very abstract.
What to watch for
Violence: Most of the violence is just under the surface. The father is constantly angry and threatening, but he rarely lashes out in a physical way -- though in one scene, he tries to slap one of his boys for talking back at the dinner table. A boy drowns in a swimming pool. A little blood is on display during a poetic flashback sequence. Two boys play with a BB gun, and one is shot in the finger. Other scenes include some mildly disturbing imagery.
Sex: There's something akin to a "creation of life" montage with some peripherally sexual images; viewers see a pregnant woman, and later they see her with her newborn baby.
Language: "Hell," "my God," and one character says "get 'em by the nuts."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: In brief sequences, there are hints of secondary characters smoking, though none of the main characters or kids actually smokes.
Fan Reviews provided by
IT'S HUGE. by Optimism
" TREE OF LIFE dares to offer a divine perspective on tragedy. " writes Dr. Film (Craig Detwieler). Agree. When you see this hugely ambitious movie, you will experience wonder and brain-stretching puzzlement, but, at the last, reconciliation. The 'story' and characters are partially drawn, because this picture is about big answers to universal questions.
Well, well worth it! !!!!! A wonder-filled movie.
The Tree of Life: A Move from the Ordinary by nseale81
This movie seems to be polarizing. Some people love it - others hate it. I found it a unique and refreshing change from most movies of the day. It tackles big questions... and doesn't entirely answer them, but perhaps that is its purpose.
Some may find it pretentious, others may find it moving. Undoubtedly, after watching this film you will have an opinion. But in the midst of the viewing, take time to wrestle with the important existential questions that this film unearths. In my opinion, it is this wrestling that Terrence Malick (the director) intends to evoke.
Regardless, everyone should see the movie, if only to experience a film that is a move from the ordinary.
Don't waste your time by Buzmayo
Yes... The cinematography was stunning. Having said that, I hated the movie. Only the very artsy or very insecure will enjoy this film. I was left feeling like the boy in the fable who was compelled to cry out, "the king has no clothes!". The fame & beauty of the actors combined w/ the masterful way that the film was put together tried to pull me into the orbit of 'agreement' that this really was a great movie. I was able to exit that field of gravity and admit that the film was, indeed, terrible.
I'm certain that other reviewers will describe the movie w/ words & phrases like "important" or "highly artistic". In truth, the film seemed to promise "Life" and was completely unable to deliver.
Tree of Something by gpress
Best acting by Pitt ever and the kids are great, too. Malick GOT all of that stuff spot on. There is very little dialogue; the wife scarcely speaks. Unless it's her whispering existential doubts to God in the background. Sean Penn basically glowers and looks pained, and isn't present in most of the movie. Now for the bad news - much of the run time is taken up by more or less pretty, interesting pictures of celestial events (lifted from an IMAX of a few years back?) with sonorous choruses, some volcano eruption shots, some peaceful forests with -even - a fairly cute dinosaur. But all of this doesn't add up to a whom movie that matches the performance of Pitt and the incite of Malick's direction of him and the boys. It's sad. About 1 minute before the film ended when I saw it, a number of people in the audience laughed. When yet another shot of cosmic explosions appeared, someone else groaned, "Oh, God."
Definitely not for kids.
The Tree of Life by David19631963
I love to watch movies, I watch them all, foreign, independent, as well as good old american films. Now, The Tree of Life should be renamed to the Tree of Crap! This is the WORST MOVIE EVER!!!! Do not waste your time or money going to see this movie. It was extremely painful to watch. This movie is a great example of why you can not trust the critics reviews. They all raved about how great this movie is. I feel like I was tricked into spending 3 hours watching this garbage, believe me, that is exactly what this is GARBAGE!!!
Three things I have never done by ljo1226
1. This is the first time I have ever written a review about a movie. This movie is so bad that i felt i had to write a review to warn others. Watching this movie made me angry, frustrated, gave me palpitations, and and overwhelimg feeling of nausea which I imagine would surpass that of the feeling of swallowing ones own vomit.
2. I have never been suicidal, but after about 30 minutes of this movie I wanted to take my own life, and by the end of the movie I was on the phone with a suicide hotline. The only people who could like this movie are the artsy types who have done so many drugs in the past that thier brains are fried and they think that a bunch of silence and whispering makes something deep and "psychologically insightful".
3. I have never turned off a movie before finding out the ending....never, but I didn't care how it ended. Complete garbage and complete waste of time. First time I have seen a movie with brad pitt that I didn't like.
Just Didn't Get It - Didn't Like It by jljeje
I put the time & effort in this one, but it just didn't come together, after hanging with it til the bitter end.
Sure, some Discovery type scenes but not enough story & too much visual abstract. For me, it was one of the those type movies that you just keep watching because you think SOMETHING is about to happen, that turns this into an Okay movie.
Just a waste of time.
GREAT CONCEPT - BAD EXECUTION by LDaven
The concept of the movie - the evolution of mankind (nature) versus the spiritual evolution of man -understanding and forgiveness (grace)- is a very complex theme. But it is a difficult concept to portray in a movie.
The movie tries to create an "experience" of a soul's consciousness. On the screen, it becomes a whispering voice(s) viewing excerpts of its previous life, including its consciousness and evolution of man. The soul understands by seeing its connection to everyone and the shared struggles, where spiritual growth comes from this understanding and embracing others who have hurt us through love and forgiveness.
However, the reality was that it is painfully slow to watch for those who don't get it and those who do. There is nothing to keep you engaged - a visual ADHD experience .
It is like watching a film clip of flowers growing and blooming. It is amazing at high speed, but painful if you had to actually sit and watch yourself.
Agony by Todd607
Do not go to this movie. If you go you will be sorry. Sit on the end of the row so you can leave after the first ten minutes. It does not get any better. Trust me.
The Tree of Life by smos2022
This is an extraordinary film! Very moving, visually stunning and the music captures and enhances what's happening in the scenes. It also captures the essence of childhood the way "To Kill a Mockingbird" did. I loved it and highly recommend seeing it.