Pepe's View:

The Tree of Life written and directed by Terrence Malick won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2011.  I'll be up front and reveal my opinion of this film in one sentence: How could this beautifully photographed but pretentious wank win such an award?
The film contains very little dialogue - mostly narration or thought revealing comments but unfortunately most of this was mumbled so was indecipherable to most of the audience.  Very avant garde!  The plot, such as it is, involves a family living in a small town in Southern USA. Their life is mostly shown through the eyes of Jack - the eldest son played by Sean Penn as an adult - who  seems to be mournfully questioning his existence and the meaning of life without actually doing anything about this meaningless existence.
We see young Jack losing his "innocence" as his idealistic perception of life  taught by his mother is slowly tarnished when he witnesses a series of minor events portraying life as it really is in all its ugliness.  Jack's father - Brad Pitt - has an opposing point of view on life to the mother as he sees life as tough and an ordeal and to survive you must put yourself first and be tough.  Jack is caught between these conflicting life views and has never, it seems, been able to rationalise them.  There is a 20 min insert of the creation of the universe (why, was totally lost on me) and the ending, which had scores of people walking aimlessly across a sandy beach which I presume was to indicate how many people cross our life's path as we grow up each having a part in the person we eventually become, was too long, too obtuse and almost meaningless.
The film is too long - way too long in fact at almost 2.5 hrs - for such a thin plot and one containing almost no dramatic moments. I was never so pleased to see the end of a film and couldn't wait to escape the theatre as that is how it made me feel - trapped.

4/10 for the cinematography.

Ma's View:

Yes, I have to agree!  This did not do it for me - give me "Another Year" any day!  I thought we were in for another "Fantasia" with the whole "big bang" sequence.  I guess it was meant to place humankind in the big context of the universe but it went on far too long and became irritating!  I mean we have all seen those images before!  The movie makers have taken a hugely complex theme and conveyed it with the subtlety of a sledge hammer.  Add to that all the whispering monologue and meaningless walking about on the beach.  Compare it to "Departures" which really places mankind into the context of his short span of life here on this ever changing planet.

Acting honours went to the young Jack, played by Huner McCracken, who engaged the viewer much more than either Brad Pitt or Sean Penn.

My score:  4/10

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