It is not fair to comment on a complex film generally without studying it in detail but I feel compelled to write about Malick’s The Tree of Life. The film evoked in me deep emotions but also deep alienation.
One does not reach the age of 76 without suffering loss and grief. I found the first 20 minutes of the film extremely moving. By placing the loss of a young son and brother in the context of the universe and nature, Malick elicited in me the feelings, thoughts and questions about human existence that do not fail to arise in such circumstances. The thoughts can be religious, philosophical or spiritual depending on the viewer. It is inevitable that they will appear trite and hackneyed to some people. Malick offers a lot of space for the viewer to think and interpret the stunning images and sounds even if the voice over is confusing or inaudible at a first viewing.
Unfortunately when the film focussed on Jack and his reminiscences, I just could not get involved. The move from the universal to Jack’s very personal recollections and the very male point of view disturbed me. The feel of fragments of youth remembered were so well filmed that I could not detach myself from the male concept of the family and make the leap into the deeper significance: the loss of innocence or the shattering of the American Dream that some reviewers saw in the film. The Oedipal nuclear family, the Mother as Grace and Infinite Love, the stereotyped loving and repressing father, irritated me. Oh! yes there is a grandmother in the family but just as she does not play any part in Jack’s memory she has left very little trace in mine.
Aside. Of 326 reviews on the imdb site 29 are women