Saturday 9 July 2011

The Tree of Life

Today I saw The Tree of Life, and came out with an incipient migraine which felt like the result of overwhelming emotions, but was probably the result of weird lighting effects. Apart from that, I liked it a lot, was absorbed and transported and moved. Well, it's rare that I don't like something widely labelled slow and self-indulgent.

Brad Pitt gives a haunting, nuanced performance and Sean Penn is beautiful to look at - one rather expects the other way around, I suppose. Jessica Chastain is beautiful to look at also, but she's really a part of the scenery. This is all about boys and men. The young boys are memorable - fine actors wonderfully directed both in their individual roles and as a group.

I've never seen more stunning filming of nature or of big-city architecture, could have sat for hours and watched just that. So involving and emotive was it that I had no problem then accepting the arrival of rather anthropomorphised dinosaurs.

The evocation of the 1950s, cars and clothes and, oh, the hats (I remembered all those old photos of my father wearing a hat) was powerful for me, though the  resonances of Texas in those days and of young men dying in the Korean (?) war must be more powerful for a US audience.

I loved this depth and intensity and prolongation of feeling and, perhaps most of all, the extreme vision of skyscraper cities as a frightening nightmare we've made real. To see the horror I have felt so well portrayed was paradoxically consoling.

So, yes, I loved it. Bring it on. This is what today's technology and the film industry's millions are for. But I came out with the headache and later an emotional hangover. As if I'd drunk rather a lot of a fabulous wine. Then I felt a little more sympathetic to the nervous giggles that had accompanied the closing credits - only a little.


Tamar said...

I have yet to see it. For some reason I have been reluctant. But, this review is pretty convincing for me to see it - if only for the beauty of Sean Penn :-)
Thanks for this post, Jean!

Jean said...

Tamar, I think there's plenty even for those who aren't captivated by the film's overall project - stunning photography, lovely music, terrific acting