Waiting for Terrence: Everyone Wants to Know -- Is Malick Here?
Despite what you may be thinking, the most elusive and sought-after figure on the Croisette hasn't been Johnny Depp. Here at Cannes, where film-geekery runs high, everyone is wondering: Will the notoriously reclusive Terrence Malick emerge from the shadows for a personal appearance? He's become the "Where's Waldo?" of the festival.
Tree of Life screens for critics Monday morning, and although Malick is something of a cult figure among critics, he's not universally beloved. Some of the critics I chatted with today expressed doubts and reservations, even though almost everyone (myself included, and I'm not a Malick fan) is looking forward to seeing the film. Even I'll admit: The trailer looks gorgeous, though Malick's brand of beauty has burned me just about every time. I should love Malick: His movies are gorgeous-looking, he has an old-fashioned sense of craftsmanship, and even though his pictures are slow-moving, there are plenty of tortoise-style filmmakers -- Hou Hsiao-hsien, for one -- that I love madly.
What kills the deal for me is Malick's preference for natural scenery -- gently waving grass, sunlight peeking through leafy greenery -- over human characters, and actors. Whether I respond to Tree of Life or not -- and who knows? I may -- I'll have more to say about that tomorrow, and probably more yet when the movie opens in the United States on May 27.
Meanwhile, if I happen to see the man himself, strolling along the Croisette or eating a croissant, I'll be sure to let you know.
Read more of Stephanie Zacharek's coverage of Cannes 2011 here.