Abstracted, metaphysical, metaphorical, non-sequential, and poetic, this masterpiece from the legendary director is a beautiful and harrowing look at life, growth, spirituality, and love as seen through the eyes of a young boy named Jack. We follow Jack from conception to adulthood, and as a grown-up (played by the inimitable Sean Penn) he re-traces his steps and mis-steps in life and his conflicted relationship with his troubled father (portrayed by Brad Pitt).
Cinematically rich and colorful, Malick's kaleidoscopic lens captures not only a realistic depiction of boyhood in the 50s, but also a cosmic evolution/genesis of life itself, often in relation to Jack's own birth and growth. "The Tree Of Life" is a bittersweet film with an understated subtlety, relating the pain of growing older and wiser with what some may see as a pretentious and heavy-handed philosophical angle. i prefer to see this one simply as a truly artful fllm that inspires and provokes.
Either way, this decidedly non-commercial work is a visually stunning homage to the splendor (and sorrow) of life itself, and Malick's carefully-crafted cinematography is both gorgeous and memorable. Highest marks! (Fox Searchlight)