I rarely write about movies on this blog for I am not a movie freak but when I do, then that movie’s worth a watch! This Tuesday evening I went for ‘The Tree of Life’. Previously I thought that it had not been released in Ahmedabad for that gay guy with a moustache reviewing the flick on CNN IBN said that it is out just in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore (sigh!! Bangalore!) but then someone clued me in that it is out here in Ahmedabad, I checked and found out that there was just one show per day in the entire city and I knew that I had to watch it for it wouldn’t last more than a week in this city. So with not more than 15 people they played it. (Luckily this time it didn’t got scraped! I guess PVR is true to its words.)
Non linear storyline the movie had, the likes of ‘Pulp Fiction’!! The film is odd and not for everyone, specially not for those ‘MTV Generation’ youth who enjoy Bollywood crap of the senseless kind of Delhi Belly, because the movie is thought provoking and they’d find it pointless and boring. A film so complex that every thought one spends on it will still never make complete sense. Probably the most unique film I’ve ever seen. I could connect to this film because it talks about the concept of infinity (in certain parts) which I think about a lot when I lay down beneath the starry sky couple of times a week and ponder upon this wonderful idea (probably Claude Vorilhon through his book pushed me in this direction , otherwise his book can be interpreted as an entertaining fiction read, UFO Religion! Hahha!!) It contemplates human existence from the perspective of eternity. It shows how pointless in this infinite expanse of time and universe are the lives, love and loss of the people of a small family in 20th century America. Also it attempts to put life from a perspective of a young prudish boy. The more you think about it, the more you’ll understand the depth of the concept and more you’ll like the movie.
This movie takes you to another world where life seems so simpler. I grew up in the age when internet was in its nascent stage and not much popular in India and I remember just hanging out with kids in the neighborhood, walking around, cycling, playing ‘real’ games in those summer days. I remember being outside and climbing trees and walls. The age where people didn’t used to have ‘online’ friends and had real knowledge which did not fail with the broadband. Those who grew up in the 90s, 80s and certainly those even before will enjoy this face of the film too.
The movie is about the life of Jack (Sean Penn), the eldest son of Mr and Mrs O’Brien (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) who is shown to have been lost in this modern world which is without a soul, he reminisces about the good old days of his childhood where he had a younger brother (who died as an adult) and retrospects his relationship with him and how he misses him in present time. In this non linear retrospection it is shown from the time since he and his brothers were born. This part was literally a hair raising experience for me. Coming of a new life in the world, super cute babies, their purr like cries, even cuter way in which the relation of the young Sean Penn with his younger brother is portrayed (a little part of it can be seen in the trailer above) and of course brilliant performance by Jessica Chastain with amazing cinematography moves you from within.
Then as he grows up his relationship with his parents is focussed upon. His kind and empathetic mother and his rigidly strict father who makes Jack call him Sir, makes him listen to Classical, ‘Gentlemen’s music’ and teaches him discipline and other necessary lessons of life to mould him to the guy he is today. Then Jack is shown indulging in acts of vandalisation as he turns into a teenager and is shown introspecting and coping up with his racy teenage hormones. The family then relocates as Mr O’Brien is broke and it is brilliantly shown how he asks for forgiveness from Jack for being so harsh to him.
The film then again shows adult Jack who is shown as lost and walking through places resembling The Grand canyon and The Yellowstone National park and on a beach he is reconciled with all the dead members of his family including his parents and his younger brother and also his younger self.
And lastly, in the first half while showing the birth of Universe from the Big Bang to complex molecular organisms to dinosaurs, the voiceovers in the movie which asks certain questions would leave you wondering about their answers.
In the end, I would say that its a brilliant movie; amazing cinematography, wonderful graphics, charming music and brilliant visuals; thought provoking and may leave you with lot of engaging discussions with the person who has seen it. Worth watching twice if you are a kind of person who likes such movies.
PS: Spotted watching the movie were the author Esther David and this very common species found in Ahmedabad – ‘The annoying gujju couple’ who was sitting just 2 seats away from me and who continuously kept on giggling and chatting and then giggling and then again chatting… Glad they left early, must’ve been one of those who bought the ticket by looking at the star cast and might have not realised that it was a damn serious flick!!