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Archive for the ‘Sean Penn: MASTER ACTOR’ Category

The Tree Of Life

11 Jun

The Tree Of Life – Directed and written by Terrence Malick. Family Drama. The death of a younger brother triggers a growth many years later between the older older brother’s spiritual life and his experience of their father. 2 hours and 18 minutes. Color. 2011.

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One goes to the movies of Terrence Malick as one goes to the dentist, not because one wants to but because one has to. And there one sits back and endures the same monotonous drill. Fortunately Terrence Malick makes one film every ten years, so one’s visits are not frequent. One must at the start make such a facetious crack, because Malick is devoid of a sense of humor. But that does not mean he is devoid of a sense of humans. For that is what is interesting about him. Here his color scheme is glacial, It is as if he wanted to keep us at a distance from the material and the people and what they endure: you may look but do not touch or be touched by it. I think that’s rather an easy out. For he has the actors sufficient to the substance rather than the scheme of drama. The story is essentially about three boys, 9, 11, and 12 I should say, and Malick captures their ways and means fully, and I believe his treatment is made from fear of making them piteous. He certainly does not need to do it to achieve memory, for his period is the later 40s and early 50s, and that is registered fully and accurately. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are master actors, and one goes to see how they will operate in this milieu, and they do just fine. Brad Pitt as the father has sold out and failed in the bargain he struck, giving up music for security as an engineer; then looking for a better bargain still, he works on inventions, also a failure. And, fifty years later, Sean Penn, as his architect oldest son, has also sold out. His home is as barren as the skyscrapers he constructs, so that his one-night-stand has to bring in a dead branch from the garden to give some natural life to it. Pitt’s relations especially to his elder son, who will grow up to be Sean Penn, are of ministerial authoritarianism as though in displacement of his own self castigation. He is devoid of play; even when he plays the piano he does not play, and the music associated with his burdensome personality is well upholstered classical. But he also physically loves his sons, and presents a parent who is both not the doormat-mother and is male. The movie ends with the vision of a bridge between natural life and grace. I have to say this out loud because it registers in the film as a bafflement. But if it had registered in the film it would have been as a feeble vulgarity. So – why does one go? One goes because Malik is a serious artist of film. Paul Thomas Anderson is another. There are precious few. One goes simply to be in the company of such temperaments.

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