Analysis / The Tree of Life

Love It or Hate It

It looks fantastic and its evocation of family life wins over most, but...
  • The "plot" (never has the word been more loosely used) is ambitiously slow-moving and meditative, and has many random events of no apparent consequence.
  • The sound-mix often pushes the dialogue to the far end of audibility, which at times gives the film a dream-like quality, and times makes it hard to work out what's going on.
  • The out-of-nowhere leap to the dawn of creation, followed by the history of the universe right up to the birth of the main character. The film leaves it entirely up to you find the relevance of dinosaurs to the plot.
  • The ending which appears to show... well, the easy answer is "heaven," but there are too many follow-up questions to list.
  • The imagery of the film is incredibly open to interpretation. When something can mean anything at all, many will find it doesn't mean anything.
  • Here's The Cinema Snob's long-winded discussion on why he hated the film.
  • It has been argued that the movie and its imagery are actually pretty straightforward for anyone who is well versed in Christian theology (with explicit visual references to things like the narrow door [Matthew 7:13] or Jacob's Ladder [Genesis 28:1019], not to mention Job, which is explicitely referenced several times in the movie). Understandably, most of this was lost on a modern, mostly secular western audience.
  • The fact that people saw Sean Penn's name near the top (second only to Brad Pitt) and the fact that he barely shows up at all probably both contribute to the broken base as well.