by James Killough
It would not be wrong to describe Terrence Malick’s Cannes Palme D’Or-winner The Tree Of Life as a two-hour-fifteen-minute ad for a fictitious Calvin Klein “Existence” perfume, brought to you in part by the Museum of Natural History, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and the Episcopal Diocese of Waco, Texas.
Tree is for lovers of films with no conventional plot like Baraka and Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi series. In other words, smoke a hefty spliff, stack up on the muchie rations and prepared to murmur “wow.”
I wasn’t in Cannes this year, and per my earlier post it is unlikely I would have seen the rest of the films in competition even if I had been, but I can understand why awarding the Palme D’Or to this caused so much controversy. It’s beautiful, yes, but it is not great cinema by my standards. And this is coming from a huge Terrence Malick fan. It isn’t even intellectually stimulating from an esoteric spirituality point of view. But, after all those years in India and with the Sufis, I’m really jaded that way.