The Tree of Life

Director: Terrence Malick
Year Released: 2011
Rating: 4.0

Ambitious, poetic (dare I suggest ... Christian?) meditation on life and memory by Big Thinker Malick, who takes a core concept - a coming-of-age movie - and surrounds it with Bigger Questions about existence, the past and the infinite. Eschewing traditional storytelling, Malick mixes his tale of three boys growing up in Waco, Texas with their angelic mother (Jessica Chastain) and harsh but loving father (Brad Pitt) with images of Earth's (and life's) beginnings, of dinosaurs and volcanoes, and concludes with an affecting march through the afterlife. The (meticulous) editing weaves all these ideas in and out beautifully, although the effort isn't for a viewer in a harried state-of-mind. To match its superb technical balance, the performances are spot-on, especially the little boys as they fight with each other, Dad and frolic in the fields. You need gigantic balls to make a movie this ethereal for today's mass-audiences, which means Malick probably requires a wheelchair to move around.