‘Tree of Life’ receives glowing reviews out of Cannes, divisive audience reaction

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Terrence Malick is back with his long-awaited latest film Tree of Life, which recently premiered in competition at Cannes.  The reclusive filmmaker wasn’t there, but his stars Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt were.  The audience reaction seems to be divisive, as one might expect with harsh boos mixed in with lots of enthusiastic applause.  Cannes is famous for its harsh reaction towards big films, just look at the boos that reined down on Sofia Coppola when she premiered Marie Antoinette, or when Richard Kelly premiered Southland Tales.  However the critical community has unsurprisingly embraced Malick’s latest film with glowing reviews from all the major critics.  We will see how the film does the with audiences when it is released stateside May 27th.

Here is a sampling of some of the reviews for the film which current holds an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Keep in mind this is a rather small sampling because we only have nine reviews to go by.

Andrew O’Heir said,

Right now I suspect that “The Tree of Life” is pretty much nuts overall, a manic hybrid folly with flashes of brilliance. But even if that’s true it’s a noble crazy, a miraculous William Butler Yeats kind of crazy, alive with passion for art and the world, for all that is lost and not lost and still to come.

O’Heir’s review is not a flat out rave, admitting that film might be a bit of a mess, but it is an impressive achievement none the less.

Emaunel Levy gave the film an A- and opened his review with the following:

Cosmic and metaphysical in its narrative, ambitious to a fault in its goal, and gorgeously beautiful in its visual style and art design, “The Tree of Life,” Terrence Malick’s new feature, is sort of a career-summation work, one he has been wanting and preparing to make for decades.

Todd McCarthy gave a flat out rave for The Hollywood Reporter and said,

Brandishing an ambition it’s likely no film, including this one, could entirely fulfill, The Tree of Life is nonetheless a singular work, an impressionistic metaphysical inquiry into mankind’s place in the grand scheme of things that releases waves of insights amid its narrative imprecisions. This fifth feature in Terrence Malick’s eccentric four-decade career is a beauteous creation that ponders the imponderables, asks the questions that religious and thoughtful people have posed for millennia and provokes expansive philosophical musings along with intense personal introspection.

The only negative review of note came from Stephanie Zacharek at Moveline.com.  She called it a “a gargantuan work of pretension and cleverly concealed self-absorption.”

Either way, I am still looking forward to the film.  I love all of Malick’s films and the trailer knocked me out.

2 Comments
  1. Al says

    This is absolutely one of the worst films I have ever seen. One-quarter of the audiance left 30 minutes in to the screening. Nothing you haven’t seen before, but you probably saw it with a coherent story line, which this one misses. Most of the movie is just a bunch of random shots without any connection, other than they are pretty. I wish I had followed the people who left early. Totally a waste of two hours of my life.

  2. Simon Howell says

    Marie Antoinette and Southland Tales both earned those boos (and remember, the latter aired in a three-hour cut – yikes!). I doubt the Malick is anywhere near as bad, but you never know ’till you see for yourself.

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