The Tree of Life

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Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, only the fifth American film in two decades to claim the coveted prize, Terrence Malick’s heady, perplexing and jaw-droppingly gorgeous philosophical epic quickly became one of the most hotly discussed and debated cinematic events of the decade thus far. Blending Malick’s trademark pastoral palette with spectacular sequences of cosmic creation and destruction (courtesy of 2001: A Space Odyssey special-effects wizard Douglas Trumbull), The Tree of Life is a visual poem that boldly addresses some of the fundamental questions of human existence. In 1950s Waco, Texas, Brad Pitt is a stern patriarch trying to teach his three boys the ways of the world while clashing with the gentler philosophy of his soulful wife (Jessica Chastain); decades later, Sean Penn plays one of the sons, now a lost soul adrift in a glass-and-steel world, searching for the past in his present. Endowing each moment, from the smallest (the tiny foot of a newborn baby) to the largest (the dawn and demise of the dinosaurs), with breathtaking beauty and majestic scope, Malick, in only his fifth feature film, not only continued his ongoing evolution into one of cinema’s most ambitious and unpredictable artists, but also created one of the most unique American films of the new century. (Dir. by Terrence Malick, 2011, USA, 139 mins., Rated PG-13) Digital