Terrence Malick is known to take a long time in-between films, but even the cinematic master must be annoyed at the constant speculation and rumors surrounding his latest endeavor, "The Tree of Life."
Financed and co-produced by Bill Pohlad, the drama starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain was supposed to be released through the now seemingly defunct mini-major Apparition. In fact, there were rumblings it would qualify for year-end awards for 2009. Then, it was expected to premiere at Cannes this past May, but it turned out the always mercurial Malick was still tinkering in the editing room. The next logical release was right now, but when Apparition fell apart following the departure of marketing head Bob Berney, that plan was scuttled. Instead, Pohland found a new distributor in awards-savvy Fox Searchlight who has decided to aim for a summer 2011 strategy which no doubt means a Cannes berth. The consistent unknown status of the prestige project has given it a slight whiff of a dreaded "troubled" project, but judging from the first preview that doesn't seem to be the case.
Granted, Malick is an acquired taste for some, but while his narrative is hardly ever conventional and sometimes wandering, he is one of the greatest visualists of the past 50 years. You could even argue there is no filmmaker who TV commercial directors have ripped off more in one way or another. "Life" hasn't deterred from his realistic aesthetic (thankfully), but it's still a bit unclear what the film is truly about.
According to the official synopsis, "Life" "centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence." Pitt seemingly plays a tough father and Chastain his kinder, more loving wife. Penn is the older, possibly "troubled" version of Pitt's son. How Malick has woven these thematic threads into a larger "tree of life" canvas is unclear, but he's got some gorgeous cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki and music from Alexandre Desplat to assist him in the process.
You can watch the trailer embedded below as well as the film's first poster (which is a little too "Babies" for my taste).
Are you down for a climb into the "Tree of Life"? Share your thoughts below.