Nature is a cruel and unforgiving mistress.
Over time, man has conjured God to tame her and give reason and order to the random chaos.
In present day, a man named Jack (Sean Penn) wanders listlessly through a cold, sterile metropolis where success is measured by wealth and excess. On the anniversary of his brother’s death, a call to his father triggers an ocean of memories to come rushing over him. Distracted, he daydreams and wonders about the meaning of life and why his brother had to be taken from him. Was it because of the bad things he did as a child? Was it a failure on the part of his parents? Is it because his God is a mysterious and unknowable power that snuffs out life as easily as it gives it away? Is this why he has become so misguided and empty today? Jack imagines his childhood bookended by the beginning and end of time, where writer/director Terrence Malick’s meta-narrative provides a linear mirror image to Weerasethakul’s cosmic cycling from Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Memories and dreams fuel both films, but The Tree of Life cuts through time like a knife. Continue reading