A quintessentially immersive drama/film experience from Terrence Malick (Badlands, Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven), which places a man’s midlife doubts in the context of the origins, evolution and meaning of life on Earth. The central theme, the tension between brute nature and spiritual grace, is explored through the story of a man (Sean Penn) whose search for existential purpose, sharpened by the anniversary of his brother’s death, sparks memories of his 1950s upbringing in the American Midwest. He recalls, in impressionistic fragments, beautifully filmed by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, his boyhood (where he’s played by Hunter McCracken) with his disciplinarian father (Brad Pitt) and his near-saintly mother (Jessica Chastain). The film also encompasses the broadest possible sweep of the history of our cosmos and our planet’s natural history, as well as featuring voiceovers from its key characters and Biblical quotes, to reinforce its leitmotif. The Tree of Life won its director the Palme d’Or award at Cannes 2011.
The Tree of Life – Wednesday at 01.30am on FilmFour.