The story starts in the USA in the 50's. A typical American family in a typical neighbourhood. In theory the perfect family. Mr O'Brien, the father, works in a factory; Mrs. O'Brien is a housewife. She agrees on all her husband decisions. She is very submissive. They have 3 sons, Jack, R.L and Steve. They are very happy in their town; a beautiful and quiet North American town. The only problem for the boys is their father; he scares them with his strict rules. O'Brien's personality is strange mix between violence and tenderness. Maybe the “bad dad” is only a role; he really is a sweet person but he must play a part to be the “perfect dad”. The plot of this part is written for society. The most conservative American Society. However, he is perfect outside the home; inside, his attitude is very annoying. But this is not important when “the Tragedy” occurs. Life is the most important thing. When life disappear, everything else does as well. Or maybe not. Maybe the things only change. Life, death, god, evil.. They are only pieces of the nature. While Mrs. O'Brien cries, a new planet is born; Mr. O'Brien's lesson aren't necessary at six feet under; but Jack nowadays is a successful man thanks to this lessons. Jack remembers his brother. But his brother is nothing related to whole world; he is not important but he's part of the Universe; he is part of Life.
The Tree of Life is a new classic, mainly because it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival. But, also, because it was directed by Terrence Malick, one of the most popular “underground” directors. Malick, with only two movies between 1973 and 1998, is admired by a lot of American actors. When he came back in 1998 with The Thin Red Line (one of my favorite movies), many actors wanted to collaborate in that project: Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta, George Clooney… It was the 3rd Malick's movie. With only 3 movies in 25 years, Terrence had won 32 prizes including the most important ones in Berlin, San Sebastian and Cannes. But after The Thin Red Line, Malick filmed The New World and with this movie he didn't win any important awards. Then, he filmed The tree of life, made to be successful. It's a beautiful mix of auteurism and poetry. But, maybe this mix is a little bit forced. The main plot is very strong, very serious but the secondary ideas confuse the spectator. The secondary ideas are related to god, nature, the Universe, and they are represented with beautiful sequences of images. However, these sequences are very large and break the rhythm of the movie. Anyway, the final result is very good because everybody can remember their favourite feature: if you prefer a dramatic plot, the O'Brien family's story is realistic and original; if you like visual stories, landscapes, Jack's environment and the pictures of the Universe are simply incredible.
To remember: The character of Mr. O'Brien.
To forget: The long sequence about nature at the beginning. More than 15 minutes, with dinosaurs included.
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