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Directed by Terrence Malick

United States 2011 139 mins. In English

In what was only his fifth feature in almost 40 years, the reclusive director Terrence Malick sets the lives of a young boy and his family up against the big bang and the formation of the cosmos. Jack (Hunter McCracken as the boy, Sean Penn as the man he becomes) chafes against the strict guidance of his father (Brad Pitt), while his mother (Jessica Chastain) does her best to offer the wisdom that will steer him into adulthood. Employing his now ubiquitous use of guardedly whispered voiceover narration, the film is Malick’s leap into a more freeform mode of moviemaking, a path that, for better or worse, he has continued to plough in subsequent works this decade. Nominated for three Academy Awards (for Best Picture, Directing, and Emmanuel Lubezki’s gorgeously rendered cinematography), The Tree of Life is possessed by memory, haunted by unanswerable questions, and powered by philosophical curiosity. “There are very few films I can think of that convey the changing interior weather of a child’s mind with such fidelity and sensitivity. Nor are there many that penetrate so deeply into the currents of feeling that bind and separate the members of a family.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times.