Archive for July 11th, 2011

how many moments like this are buds on the tree of life. Flowers of darkness they are, she thought.   – Mrs. Dalloway 29

Word on the street — or should I say, word on the list — is that The Tree of Life is a must-see for Virginia Woolf fans.

Common readers Mark Scott and Melanie White recently saw the film, which was written and directed by Terrence Malick. Afterward, White emailed the VW Listserv with this advice: “see it, if you’re in the mood for a long, slow, beautiful film.”

She said she and Scott both thought the film was very “`Woolfian’ in that it’s storytelling focused on feelings, told in a series of vignettes of small moments — moments of being.”

White — and critics — praise the film for its gorgeous imagery, its lack of traditional, linear narrative structure and its fluid use of time, Woolfian traits to be sure. But in general, the reviews are mixed.

The Guardian reviewer said it took him more than one viewing to understand particular sections of the film, and he complained that the film was both sublime and “shockingly cheesy.”

NPR described the film as “astonishing in some spots, almost incoherent in others” with “the throb of poetry in every frame.”

And Joanna Connors, wrote in Sunday’s Plain Dealer that one must translate the eloquent words used by film reviewers in order to understand why a large percentage of average moviegoers hate this film and why a substantial portion of the audience booed it at the screening.

For example, what NPR means by calling the film poetic is: “I don’t have a clue what the movie is trying to say, so please don’t email me to ask. It’s poetry, OK? It’s supposed to confuse you,” according to Connors.

Of course the film won the most prestigious prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and Brad Pitt, as the male lead, is universally praised for his work in the role.

If I can find Tree of Life playing at a theater near me, I will take White’s advice and see it. If you already have, post your thoughts in the comments section below. Meanwhile, watch the trailer.

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