Sean Penn Didn't Like Tree of Life

Translated from a French-language publication by The New Yorker's Richard Brody, Sean Penn apparently has issues with Terrence Malick's recent film: "I didn't at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I've ever read. A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What's more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly." Join the club, pal. [Le Figaro via The New Yorker]


  • The WInchester says:

    Penn was the first guy at that theater in Connecticut to demand his money back, wasn't he?

  • J K says:

    That Penn opines just as elliptically as Malick makes movies. Or maybe its the translation.
    Mal lick, that's french for bad lick, right?
    Cut "Terry" some slack.. I'm sure the film just needed 7 or 8 more years to gestate. When you rush out work like this, it's going to have consequences.

  • Dan says:

    Who Cares? Sean Penn has the IQ of a pencil eraser and the acting ability to go with it.

  • AS says:

    I think your in the minority on that one.

  • J K says:

    Oh, Dan. Come now. That's not fair.
    I thought 21 Grams was a devastating performance, as overwrought as it was. Hell, I can even admit to thoroughly enjoying his loony tunes cavorting in U-turn. (I personally don't give much consideration to bio-pic "impersonation" style performances, but clearly many found his Milk affecting.)
    I think Penn, as an actor, is just primarily interested in the conveyance of raw emotional intensity. And that goal, though understandable as an obsession for the actor, is not necessarily the over-all goal of an excellent film.
    But just because an actor prefers creating emotionally blistering infernos as a job, doesn't mean he can't collaborate on something a bit more subtle and restrained.
    I can think of several performances widely regarded as essential to films considered to be absolute classics that were not enjoyed or appreciated by the actors that provided them.
    Anyone have a personal favorite example?

  • Lynch Bob says:

    Piper Laurie hated what De Palma had her do as Carrie's mother. That's one I always think of. And Shelley Duvall pretty clearly didn't enjoy or understand what Kubrik brutalized out of her in The Shining. Not to get all Stephen King on you.

  • I dunno how either of these guys felt about their finished films, but Ed Harris was understandably pretty vexed by James Cameron's methods on _The Abyss_ (he almost drowned at one point), and Jimmy Stewart eventually got fed up with all of Alfred Hitchcock's camera-blocking on the set of _Rope_. Clearly the latter two made up.

  • J K says:

    One does get the impression that an actor SURVIVES a Cameron shoot. And I assume the ire is only cemented and spleen vented in the rare case of box office disappointment.
    (Didn't Kate Winslet almost drown as well? Hell, at least hers was a hit. Maybe he went all-CGI just because he was tiring of these silly human actors with their feeble organic needs, such as breathing and needing to be kept above arctic temperatures and be allowed to sleep and stuff.)
    Wouldn't you love to see footage of Jimmy Stewart losing his cool at Hitch? "Well… well, I say…" Do the voice.
    There's always the case of Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog, with all the stories of violence and mistrust. Like crazed lovers divorcing after every production.
    You know they say a "happy" shoot equals a sterile, lifeless film.
    The extraordinary vanity and narcissistic wounding that drives most actors makes them generally the last people who can see a project they are in in any other terms.
    Now, Penn is a director in his own right, but the kind of emotionally confrontational anodyne he seems intent to serve up to break the ice of the bourgeois technocracy is simply in a different direction altogether than the stark but expansive ruminations Malik has finally abandoned into the world.
    (Wow, that last sentence was pretentious. Forgive me. It's a Tree Of Life comment after all.)
    Poor Piper Laurie. "They're all gonna laugh at you." Say it to yourself three times. Do the voice. Don't you sound just like Jamie Lee Curtis? Isn't it bizarre?

  • It always boggles my mind to hear actors express frustration at their roles' handling by Malick. He's been totally overhauling narrative and character and making movies in the editing room since _Days of Heaven_. Richard Gere wasn't yet "Richard Gere" when he made that, but he knew enough on the set to feel disenfranchised along the way. Anyway, Penn got great scenes in _Thin Red Line_! Let's not get greedy, fella!

  • J K says:

    To everything there is a season. "Richard Gere" has departed and now only Richard Gere remains.
    Gere is a great example of an actor who works fantastically well as a stoic cypher. Sissy Spacek had that same sort of emptiness, that beguiling void, in Badlands.
    Penn could really be considered an antipode to Gere. His need to "find on the screen the emotion of the script" seems to me diametrically opposed to Malick's deliberate submerging of the maleficence of the individual into the majestic slough and awe of nature.
    I get the feeling Penn doesn't like to be annihilated by the unutterable. Which is what a Malick film seeks to accomplish, I believe.
    Sean tries to spell it out. Terry tries to erase it and leave only carbon traces.
    It's a good tension. I hope they continue to collaborate in the future.

  • ellystarks says:

    Sean Penn should have not do the movie in the first place if he is not sure on the first place.

Post a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s