Talkback: Let's Hear About The Tree of Life

It only took, oh, 30 years or so, but Terrence Malick's loooonnnng-gestating, hugely anticipated passion project The Tree of Life finally arrived in limited release over the weekend. And while a traditional Talkback feature is probably out of the question considering the film's opening on a mere four screens, a lot of people saw it on those four screens. So! Let's open the floor.

Topics include (but are not limited to):

· Was it worthy of the hype? What about a Palme d'Or?

· Did Malick literally lose the plot while developing/shooting the film over decades?

· How were the performances?

· How were the visual effects? Did it really need dinosaurs?

· How, if at all, would you recommend it to a friend?

Or anything else -- it's all on the table. Just keep it clean and keep it fair. I have a feeling we'll be talking about it for while.


  • The movie was beautiful, and possibly the best movie I've ever seen. It is not within the realm of any other movie, therefore there are no comparisons (except for maybe another Malick movie). This movie is pure emotion, it is an experience. The acting is so seamless that you feel as though what is going on is actually taking place. And yes, of course, the visuals are amazing. The cinematography and graphic effects are the best I've ever seen (I've seem a lot of movies people!). Some criticize Malick for losing grasp on the plot or veering too far away from a single narrative, but I believe that's the point. This movie does NOT have a traditional plot structure, there is actually nothing traditional about it whatsoever. You must go into this movie with an open mind, and be ready to let yourself go a little. It runs very slow, but that is the beauty. The music is absolutely breathtaking as well. I really hope you enjoy it, because it may be my favorite movie of all time. My review will be up soon on

  • Couch Tamale says:

    While many who do like the film focus on Malick's startling capacity for imagery (or as Anthony Lane says in The New Yorker, for catching 'glories on the fly'), I've hardly heard anyone talk about his ability to elicit both stylized and completely naturalistic acting from his leads. That combination can't be easy. The performances by the two young actors Hunter McCracken and Laramie Eppler are extraordinary. The extended scene between the two brothers evoking a moment of grace is so delicate and compelling and performed mainly with eyes and gestures. While some complain of the flattening of some actors within their whispered monologues, I found myself often moved by the nuance of direction and performance.

  • Scott says:

    Breathtaking film. It is not quite like anything else I've ever seen, including previous Malick films. It requires patience, the right mind-set, and a willingness to submit to a slow, sometimes abstract, and deep viewing experience.
    Having eagerly anticipated this film for years, I was pleased but unsurprised at the stunning visuals and the idiosyncratic, lofty, reverent tone. I was surprised at how incredibly good the acting was...none of the vague sense of discomfort or confusion from some performers that was evident in Malick's previous two films. It feels like everyone working on the movie, onscreen and off, submitted fully to whatever bizarre plan Malick had hatched, and it shows.
    I was surprised at how deeply religious the film is. I was also struck that in a film that aspires to examine some of the loftiest questions and issues imagineable, it doesn't come across as indulgent or histrionic in the least. For a movie that literally includes a long sequence showing the beginning of the Universe and the creation of humanity, it is remarkably humble, focused, and moving. Despite the lack of traditional plot, it hangs together very well.

  • V. says:

    "Did it really need dinosaurs?"
    "Grey, my friend, is every theory / And green is Life’s golden tree." (Goethe)
    Dinasour Hills:
    "The hills are giant dinosaurs
    Lain to sleep-
    Dirt and time,
    Their bed and blanket.
    Time passes…
    Men build homes on their backs,
    Lay pools over their heads,
    And walk down their spines.
    But what will happen
    When the dinosaur awakens,
    Yawns, then shivers?"
    (T. M., 2006)