After leaving “Tree of Life,” did you find yourself confused and somewhat let down by Terrence Malick’s latest film? Were you too embarrassed to tell your snobby cinephile friends, “Yes, of course it looks beautiful, but what the hell is the point of it all?” Well, breathe easy, friends, because you’re not alone, as even Sean Penn was disappointed by the version of the film that made it to the big screen.
Penn, who played the present-day version of one of the young boys you spent hours watching play with one another and hate their father, recently spoke to the French magazine Le Figaro and was remarkably candid about his feelings toward “Tree of Life.” Fortunately for the non-Francophone hoi polloi such as ourselves, The New Yorker was kind enough to provide a translation of the interesting bits.
After describing the script for “Tree of Life” as “the most magnificent one that I’ve ever read,” Penn went on to explain that not only did he not know what he was supposed to be doing in his scenes, but that Malick never even clearly explained it to the actor.
Most interestingly, however, the actor asserted that “A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact.” Apparently we weren’t the only ones who remain unimpressed by hours of nature documentary footage, breathy narration, a trite message about the massive scope of creation and lousy CGI dinosaurs.
What do you think of Sean Penn’s assessment of “Tree of Life”? Is it fair or did he, like us, completely miss the point of Malick’s genius? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.