Genre: Drama

Director: Terrence Malick

Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain

*****

Think of it as a grand song, poem, prayer or even chant, but don’t approach Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life as just another movie.

It aspires to be far more than that, and it gloriously succeeds.

The film is nominally based around a troubled 1950s family in Waco, Texas, headed by an angry, disillusioned father (Brad Pitt), who is married to a sweet, naïve mother (Jessica Chastain). The O’Briens have three rambunctious sons, including elder lad Jack (bright new face Hunter McCracken), played as an adult by Sean Penn.

 

You also shouldn’t expect a conventional narrative. The Tree of Life unfolds, rather, in a cascade of images that’s closer to epic verse. In scenes ranging from the creation of the universe to an idyllic moment with dinosaurs on earth, Malick challenges the viewer to understand how humans — wrestling with nature versus grace — are just part of a much grander scheme.

Malick’s new masterpiece crosses the boundaries of the picture frame and heads straight for the imagination — a journey we all must take.

There are no extras in this DVD release, but talk persists of a future special edition.

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