The Tree of Life

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The Tree of Life is a film of endless beginnings.

The Tree of Life is a film of end­less begin­nings.

The Tree of Life restored my faith in a cin­e­ma that tran­scends enter­tain­ment. I walked in know­ing noth­ing about the film, except that it won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. What I dis­cov­ered is a film that exists almost in spite of itself, as if it were obliv­i­ous to the fact that at the same mul­ti­plex a com­e­dy sequel, a thriller remake and a com­ic book adap­ta­tion all played to packed audi­ences — yet it is the sto­ry of those very audi­ences, the broth­ers, moth­ers and fathers amongst them, about you and me and our fears and hopes and dreams.

Samira and I watched it at 12 a.m. in an almost emp­ty the­ater, which got emp­ti­er as the film pro­gressed. And every few min­utes I reached for her arm and squeezed it, to assure myself she’s still there, that the woman I love is right next to me… if only for now, while we’re both here, while we’re alive.

Tell us a sto­ry from before we can remem­ber.”

I rec­og­nized ele­ments of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, of my hero Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy, and of course of direc­tor Terrence Malick’s own med­i­ta­tive films, which come only once every sev­er­al years and leave us with a sweet after­taste until the next one comes along. But most impor­tant­ly, I rec­og­nized ele­ments of my own mem­o­ry, with its won­der­ful­ly frag­ment­ed images and its infi­nite­ly nuanced mean­ings.

This is not a review, nor is it a cri­tique. It is a thank you note to the hand­ful of film­mak­ers out there who still believe in the pow­er of cin­e­ma to engage, to chal­lenge and, ulti­mate­ly, to inspire.

Directed by Terrence MalickStarring Brad Pitt, Sean PennJessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken and Laramie Eppler.

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