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 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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tree of Life by cj5eng
Film explores creation, evolution down to slice of everyday life in small town America in the 50s as well as a glimpse of afterlife, which is an epic experience. Be prepared for limited dialogue, appreciate the visuals and embrace post film reflections on life.
Just read the synopsis - pass on watching the film! by Bbtrs
I did watch most if this movie On Demand but would have had no clue what the hell was going on or the true significance if I hadn't read the prior movie plot synopsis. My husband fell asleep even though I was fast forwarding through all the boring Discovery Channel or nature show filler scenes. You have to wait almost an hour or more into the film before any dialogue occurs. The concept of the movie is fine but, Dear God!, it didn't have to be torturous to endure.
"Tree of Life" with roots in the abyss by sandiegoalan
The most thought provoking pieces of art! Citizen Kane of the universe. Any body!! Anybody!!ho believes in the soulfulness of the mind and what art can mean for existence MUST see this film - but be sure to have someone special with you and be sure to express.
The Tree of Life by wob9340
Malick [like David Mamet] is a Director whom moviegoers either Love or Hate. This film must be viewed with an open mind. Chances are that you will note similarities to the childhoods [and Adult] lives of friends and/or relatives. And, it should make you question your own existence plus interpersonal relationships. I liked the film.