The Tree of Life

Watch The Tree of Life

"Nothing stands still."
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 2 hr 18 min
  • 6.8  (183,095)
  • 85

The Tree of Life is a beautiful and ambitious film directed by Terrence Malick in 2011. The story follows a family in Waco, Texas in the 1950s, primarily focused on the dynamic between the father, Mr. O'Brien (Brad Pitt) and his three sons. The mother, Mrs. O'Brien (Jessica Chastain), serves as a sort of ethereal presence, representing grace and nature in contrast to Mr. O'Brien's stern and authoritarian ways. Sean Penn plays the eldest son, Jack, as an adult grappling with memories of his past and searching for meaning in his modern life.

Throughout the film, Malick weaves together stunning imagery of natural landscapes, the cosmos, and microorganisms with the intimate and personal moments of the family members. The result is a meditative and impressionistic exploration of life, death, and the universe. Malick's style involves little traditional plotting or dialogue, instead utilizing voiceovers of the characters' thoughts and feelings to propel the story forward. This can create a sense of disorientation and confusion for some viewers, but the film is undeniably a visual and aural feast.

At its core, The Tree of Life is a deeply spiritual film that asks big questions about the nature of existence. It posits that the material world can be thought of as a tree, with different branches representing different aspects of life - nature, grace, humanity, etc. The O'Brien family serves as a microcosm for the entire tree, and each member's struggles with their place in the world reflect universal struggles we all face. The film is not explicitly religious, though it does grapple with concepts of God and the afterlife.

Brad Pitt's performance as Mr. O'Brien is particularly noteworthy, as he imbues the character with a nuanced sense of anger, love, and regret. Mr. O'Brien is a man who deeply wants to connect with his family, but not knowing how to access his emotions, resorts to harsh discipline and authoritarianism. Pitt's presence on screen is magnetic, and his scenes with his sons - particularly the middle son, who represents Malick himself - are powerful and emotional.

Jessica Chastain's Mrs. O'Brien is the counterbalance to Mr. O'Brien's harshness, with her ethereal presence and joyful love for her children standing in contrast to his anger. She represents the grace and beauty of the natural world, and Chastain brings a luminous quality to the role that is captivating.

The film's score, composed by Alexandre Desplat, is haunting and beautiful. It's a mix of classical pieces and original music, with a heavy emphasis on strings and piano. The score is integral to the film's emotional impact, particularly in scenes that are otherwise wordless.

The Tree of Life is a divisive film - some find it pretentious or too abstract, while others find it deeply moving and thought-provoking. Regardless of your personal reaction to it, it's hard to deny that the film takes big risks and attempts to grapple with complex and universal themes in a way that is visually stunning and emotionally resonant. It's a film that rewards multiple viewings, as there are always new details and connections to uncover. Whether you find it profound or overindulgent, The Tree of Life is undeniably a film unlike any other.

The Tree of Life is a 2011 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 18 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8 and a MetaScore of 85.

The Tree of Life
Where to Watch The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Tree of Life for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 18 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (183,095)
  • Metascore