Better to stick to the booing.
While Malick has made some quality films in the last 40 years (four prior to “Tree”), his newest is a sticker. A super snore.
In the midst of science-class study of the “Big Bang Theory” of the creation of the universe and earth itself (sleepy dinosaurs included), we have a “Leave It to Beaver” story of a suburban family in ‘50’s Waco, Texas. Nobody talks much, but there’s a lot of prayer-like whispering (“We cry to you, my soul, my son”), and crew-cut Father (Brad Pitt) is an authoritarian thug.
At one point, the oldest of three sons, Jack (Hunter McCracken), mutters, “I hate you,” and seems on the verge of knocking over a car jack and crushing dear ole dad, which would have been a welcomed relief from the sea of dullness that is this film.
Inserted in the lava-lamp light-show shots are shampoocommercial images of pretty blond Mom (Jessica Chaststain) swinging her hair in a backyard Eden and a dazed adult Jack of the future (Sean Penn) in a suit walking either among glass skyscrapers or somewhere in the desert.
It’s possible that one of the sons dies, though only a Western Union telegram and a few lines of dialogue are indications of it. This may be the reason for all the muddled meditation.
One thing is for certain. After a half hour, the audience was dying for “The Tree of Life” to end.