Directed by Terrence Malick
Starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn (Rated PG-13)
No star rating could do it justice.
Terence Malick takes on the task of showing us everything; the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. Untold billions exist in Malick’s universe, but his camera centers on one family, The O’ Briens. This family isn’t any more or less special than any other. They experience happiness, financial problems, love and grief. Everything that gives life meaning can be understood by observing the O’Briens.
Significance and meaning are not mutually inclusive. The universe doesn’t care that we exist. To the cosmos, we’re just tiny jiggly clumps of stardust. What gives us meaning is that we can love, hate, fear and care.
Though Malick’s vision includes a bible verse, it doesn’t include any religious notion of God. The characters cry out to God in times of distress, but whether he answers is left unclear. There are indications of a cosmic presence, but it would be arrogant of any reviewer to interpret that presence. There is also a scene that many will view as an afterlife, but given the surreal nature of the film it could also just be one man’s voyage through his own memories and regrets.
I have never had such a hard time forming an opinion about a film. While viewing it, there were times when I thought it was the most pretentious film I had ever seen. Just after completing it I was left with a bewildered, yet satisfying feeling. After hours of thinking about it, I now feel that this film has enlightened me and enriched my life. This isn’t a popcorn munching, knee-slappin’ good time, but it’s the kind of film that will leave you with an introspection that you didn’t know you had before you bought the tickets.