14. THE TREE OF LIFE

Director: Terrence Malick
Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
Whether its loftiness dazzles your mind or bores you to tears, The Tree Of Life is a must-see film. After a six-year absence (following 2005’s The New World, enigmatic filmmaker Terrence Malick returned with a philosophical examination of man’s existence complete with psychedelic light shows, peculiar dinosaurs, and a voiceless Sean Penn. Epic in scope, The Tree Of Life is also cluttered in its execution, spending too much time trying to pad its central coming-of-age story (with Brad Pitt as a tough father in 1950’s Americana) with forcibly transcendent imagery. But, in a climate overcrowded with lazy remakes and unimaginative sequels, Malick’s ostentatious intentions are pretty magical.

The Tree Of Life is more of an experience than a movie, rewarding viewers stricken into their uncomfortable theater seats for 140 minutes with breathtaking visuals and free-flowing scene montages, both Malick trademarks. The fact that much of it doesn’t connect (Seriously, what’s up with those fucking dinosaurs?) is mute; The Tree Of Life, more than any film in recent memory, if not the last 30 years, is the exhaustive work of a filmmaker looking to push the medium’s abilities to new heights, something that very few others ever attempt. We’ll just have to accept those dinosaurs as byproducts of innovation.