The Tree of Life has screened a Cannes and the first reviews are flooding in. Apparently, it has divided critics and and the Cannes audience (who both booed and cheered it), which is something I expected and am, in fact, relieved about. The greatest films are often the most polarizing; films so grand and profound that not everyone can initially take them in and they become hated and adored in equal measure. I've tried to refrain from reading the portions of reviews that give plot details and specifics and have instead focused on the superlatives used by the reviewers. As expected, reviews often need grandiloquent language to describe the scope of Malick's vision. I can't blame them. I'll probably have to do the same when I write my thoughts on it. Every Malick film I have seen requires a whole new level of grandiose vocabulary to describe it and praise it. After all, The man's work does not operate on a small scale but a vast, expansive one. After seeing a film of his, you almost feel imbibed with a desire to discuss "everything"; his work makes you into a philosopher. I can imagine some are not ready to come along on this journey.
One thing I'll respond to from a review I saw from Stephanie Zacharek at Movieline. She says: "But through much of "The Tree of Life," Malick, characteristically, doesn’t seem to care much for people at all."
Having not seen the film I can't comment on this statement's accuracy to The Tree of Life, but I can comment on her insistence that Malick is "characteristically" indifferent to people. I would disagree, emphatically, and I think the rest of you would too. Malick has shown time and again his absolute, unwavering tenderness for people. He cares tremendously for people, their relations to nature, and the conditions they find themselves in. Has she ever seen The Thin Red Line? If that didn't show a great care for humans, then I don't know what does. Malick always does a wonderful job of placing humans within nature and given emphasis to all forms of life. Just because he cares for other things in addition to humans he is suddenly uncaring towards humanity? What kind of black-and-white anthropocentric bullshit is that? The truth is that Malick cares more about humans than Stephanie ever will and if she cannot see that then it is her loss. Anyway, she loses all credibility for calling The Tree of Life more of a "snoozefest" than The New World. Yes, go watch Furry Vengeance instead.
Also, Brandon and I were discussing how much we would hate to watch a film at Cannes. Can you imagine watching the Tree of Life and having someone boo afterwards? I'd probably get into a fistfight. I don't care if you don't like the film, but if you are going to boo anything Terrence Malick, there's going to be trouble.
Anyway, I can't wait to see this and am jealous of those who have.