The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick (2010)

12A Certificate


Our Score
This is one of director Terrence Malick's most ambitious films in a stop-start career stretching back five decades. The origins of life on Earth are explored and hymned from both a physical and metaphysical standpoint, framed around flashbacks to a family living in 1950s Texas. It is, without question, a technical triumph for this cinematic artist (working in close conjunction with production designer Jack Fisk), whose stirring geological, botanical and astronomical passages imprint themselves on the memory. The more conventional sequences - in which Brad Pitt's frustrated, disciplinarian dad screws up the eldest of three sons (played in rebellious adolescence by a compellingly real Hunter McCracken and as a haunted adult by Sean Penn), while his wife (Jessica Chastain) occupies an ethereally sainted role - are nonetheless elliptical, impressionistic and low on dialogue. The film is peppered with Biblical quotes and fragments of narration, and the cumulative effect is mesmerising, unsettling and uplifting. Many will find it ponderous and indulgent, but too often modern cinema is committee-approved and safe, and Malick's work becomes ever more vital as an antidote.


A boy living in 1950s Texas grows up to become a disillusioned adult. On the anniversary of his brother's death, he questions his relationship with his stern father, his place in the modern world and the meaning of human existence. Terrence Malick's drama, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken and Jessica Chastain.

Cast & Crew

Jack O'Brien Sean Penn
Mr O'Brien Brad Pitt
Mrs O'Brien Jessica Chastain
Young Jack Hunter McCracken
Grandmother Fiona Shaw
RL Laramie Eppler
Messenger Irene Bedard
Steve Tye Sheridan
Jack's wife Joanna Going
Jack's ex Kari Matchett
Mrs Brown Kimberly Whalen
Ray Jackson Hurst
Elisa Crystal Mantecon
Director Terrence Malick
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: 20th Century FoxAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 8 Jul 2011