Tag Archives: reviews

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.


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