The Tree of Life: A Courtesy Warning

26 Jun

I have to admit: the only reason I walked into the movie theater last night to see The Tree of Life is because the preview was beautiful.

It didn’t tell me anything whatsoever, but it was beautiful.  I gathered something or other about the American Dream, something or other about Brad Pitt playing an abusive father, and Sean Penn wandering outside of it all.  That’s about all I got.

I suppose I take it for granted that if a preview is gorgeous and mysterious, that the mystery will be a pleasant surprise when it is revealed to me.  I somehow think that I can trust the preview.  That it won’t show me anything in an attempt to lure me in.  That it won’t make me sit in the movie theater, debating whether or not I should leave.

My trust has been betrayed.

Last night I sat, staring at the screen and feeling like I’d been duped.  I didn’t know what I was looking at, what I suppose to get out of  it, or why someone would want me to sit through it.    It started out kind of normal, but after ten minutes all bets were off.  Suddenly I was staring at strange, abstract images and a voice was whispering to me.  

For ten minutes.

And once that was over, I got a visual walk-through on evolution.  No lines, no narrative, just scattered whispers.   And a lot of intense opera music.  After the fifteenth minute of trying to wrap my brain around this forest of confusion, I let out a small, uncontrollable giggle.

Right there in front of everyone.

Now in a typical movie, I’m sure I would have been shushed.  But two girls behind me had lost their patience long before me, and the couple in front of me were whispering to each other about what the hell was going on.   In fact, after ten minutes of staring at what looked like a computer screensaver, I started to think that perhaps the movie was just one big joke and somewhere, someone was waiting for one of us to stand up and shout “WHAT THE #*(% IS THIS?!”  

I made up my mind to brace and grimace through the movie just when a teenage girl came sprinting up the aisle from the from of the theater.  She raced to the back of the room and out the door, where, once it was closed behind her, she let out the loudest, most hysterical laugh you can imagine.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one wrestling with hilarity.

Don’t get me wrong – there is a part of this movie that I appreciate.  I tried very hard to wrap my head around the movie and to think through why it was laid out this way.   I got the whole sensory images thing.   I admit that there were certain sections that entirely grasped the sense of childlike innocence and real growth that happens in life, and that’s pretty impressive.  And I even reached so far as to see the points the movie was trying to make about how life is so much bigger than one event and the cyclical nature of, well, nature.

But I have my limits.

And so since I found this movie to be generally quite preposterous, and because I felt somewhat duped, I feel inclined to break it down for you.  You know, just in case you got lured in by the preview.  


This really isn’t a joke.  I wish it were.

You’re welcome. 

Today’s RAK: Baked goods. For everyone.



12 Responses to “The Tree of Life: A Courtesy Warning”

  1. mctell2 June 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I dare to say, and from your review. If you don’t get it, no one else did. Including the director. Two concepts here…obviously in hindsight. The director had a vision of dialogue, texture, imagery &” totus ero ostendo sum in vicis”. Secondly, oops maybe none will notice (this dog don’t hunt). The award for worst movie/film of the year hidden under the category..” Artistic Endeavor ” goes too…______________________.

    A few lines from the New York Times review….
    “Embedded in the passages of cosmology, microbiology and spiritual allegory is a story whose familiarity is at least as important to the design of “The Tree of Life” as the speculative flights that surround it.”

    I have been know to approach the box office and politely ask for a refund, the manager and then the manger @hand’s manager. Never politely take no for a answer.


    • Jackie June 30, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

      Thanks for sharing! I’ve never thought about asking for a refund for a bad movie. You’ve really done that?! Could make a nice Lollipop Tuesday post… 🙂


  2. TBM June 27, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    5 percent kinda seems like a normal movie. That’s pretty funny


    • Jackie June 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

      funny until you realize it’s true.


  3. Renee Mason June 27, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Thanks for saving me $10!!


  4. Jessica June 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Thanks for the warning! I hadn’t even heard of this movie. Thought you might get a kick out of this other review I just saw too. I love that tons of people are walking out on this movie. Just makes me giggle.


    • Jackie June 30, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      Thanks for sharing the link! 🙂 I find it hilarious as well – I’m so glad I was able to keep a lid on the giggles throughout the movie, though.


  5. analyfe June 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    I felt exactly the same way. The preview made it look fantastic, but I was so confused throughout and disappointed when it was finished. There are artistic aspects I did appreciated, but it was just too abstract for me.


    • Jackie June 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

      We can only handle so many images of the solar system.


  6. Phelios Cyros July 14, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    dinosaurs FTW LOL


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