"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tree of Life or Will It Never End?

Sorry for anyone who was blown away by Tree of Life. I though it was boooooorrrrrrring! Roger Ebert gave it four stars, which usually means a lot to me, but this time I just think he's waxing nostalgic on his own childhood. He loves the realness of the scenes of the kids playing. I see this realness every day in an unlocked house and a big lawn not too different than the movie. I can watch this in real life from my porch. But watching kids get into mischief for 139 minutes is not my idea of a good time.

To be fair, the A/C in the theatre was set to freeze, and two women sat down in front of me just as the movie started, in a packed house, smothered in perfume. That coupled with the jerky camera movements, and I wasn't feeling great to begin with. But I actually considered leaving at the 90 minute mark. From 90 to 139, I was checking my watch compulsively. Every time the screen went still or dark for a second, I whispered, "Please let it be over," under my breath. BUT IT NEVER WAS!

Okay, it was eventually, but geesh!

If you're going to see it, and you're thinking of leaving half way through, I'm here to tell you, you won't miss anything. Go ahead. Just stand up and walk out.

Here's the gist of it: A family in the 50s has three boys. One dies likely in Vietnam, and we don't know which one until the end, but I didn't really care by then. We get to watch how the mother resigns herself to this tragedy. She's very religious and the film starts out with a quote from Job, and there's a sermon in the middle about Job in case you didn't catch the parallels to the movie yet. (Job's the dude that God is a jerk to just to see if he'd still be faithful to him. Well, Christians would say God isn't a jerk to him, He just allows the devil to mess with him. Same difference.) Anyway, there's flashes back and forth between this family, and a son 40 years later or so - I didn't catch which one it was as I watched, so I'll leave that out even though IMDB has his name listed - who is still trying to get his head around the death of his brother decades earlier.

But here and there throughout the movie there are montages of the birth of the world and evolution complete with dinosaurs and video footage of cells moving in a body. We are to be reminded that we're part of everything, or we're just specks in the grand scheme of things, or that how we look at a flock of birds flying in the wind - as a single unit - may be how God looks at us or how we should look at ourselves. We are everything and nothing. Dying sucks, but it's part of life.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If you want to see a really good movie about the grief that hangs over a family after the death of a child, watch Rabbit Hole. If you like the whole we are nothing and everything bit, then watch Mr. Nobody, or this (the relevant bit starts at 3:42)....

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