Two friends separately wanted me to see The Tree of Life, partly so that we could talk about it. I went and saw it with Will, my movie-buddy-kid. Then Will and I talked all about it—and there is much to discuss, much ambiguity and beauty and disturbance and yearning and indulgence and brilliance and sadness and not seeming to end… And then I had good talks with my two friends, and I liked the movie more for seeing it through their eyes, for noticing new things, different themes, discrepancies between what we each thought actually happened in the film.
At first I was trying to decide if I liked it, much less loved it, as my friends did… and then I thought that maybe that’s the meta-message, or point: to love is to know someone or something, separate from ourselves, and yet connected all the same. Maybe it’s better to ask what an artist was expressing, or what we felt and experienced, than it is to give it a grade, or even a thumb’s up or down.
The Tree of Life left me a bit melancholy. It is partly brilliant in showing scenes of a vanished childhood of empty lots and unsupervised times making trouble and darkly discovering hearts and bodies… and it is partly confusing, boldly artistic in an “American way” as one of my friends suggested, and I agree.