Critics Don't Get Tree of Life

Critics know they are supposed to like Terrence Malick, the reclusive auteur who has made just five films over the course of his 40-year career.  His movies from the 1973 Badlands to the 2011 Tree of Life are all distinctive, bold, and beautifully shot.  What Malick does not do is give interviews.  As a result, the better critics impose their own philosophical template on what they see, and the lesser ones crib from the better ones.  This works well enough for Malick's more terrestrial films, but for the deeply spiritual Tree of Life, it does not work well at all.  The problem is that most film critics no longer know enough about our Biblical legacy to review a movie about faith.  Salon's Andrew O'Hehir, for instance, calls the film "a crazy religious allegory."  Why crazy?  The Village Voice's Nick Pinkerton fills in the details: the characters actually address "the gauche subject of the eternal" and do so in a quaint "Judeo-Christian lingua...(Read Full Article)

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