The Tree of Life is a remarkable and beautiful film that, days after watching it, has remained in the background of my consciousness, profoundly prodding at me with its powerful images and ideas, and if that’s not the measure of a great film, I’m not sure what is.
This film, you may have read in other places, is different: It’s non-linear, doesn’t always explain things, and can be ambiguous as it juxtaposes scripture from the book of Job, images of the universe and creation, and the story of a family in a small Texas town in the 1950’s.
But my goodness, what an astounding piece of filmmaking this is.
Brad Pitt plays a loving but very tough father, a foil to Jessica Chastain’s perfect embodiment of tender motherhood, and both actors bring all they have to the table, leaving us with indelible and raw portraits.
But most remarkable to me are the two young boys, Jack and R.L. (played by Hunter McCracken and Laramie Eppler) who show all the complexity of daring youth, awkwardness, and brotherly love in a way that reminds me of Stand By Me without the sentimentality.
The naturalness with which the boys relate to one another felt more like a documentary than an acted film, and reminded me of my own boyhood playing in the woods of West Virginia with my own brother.
But talk of performances seems to sorely miss the great impact of this film, and, as has become painfully obvious to me, The Tree of Life does not lend itself well to seven sentence reviews; so I ask you to simply trust me: it is profound, moving, beautiful, and an incredible achievement of film making.
Worth all 7 of my 7 run-on sentences.