Brace Cove Productions, Cottonwood Pictures, Plan B Entertainment

Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Fiona Shaw, Joanna Going, Kari Matchett, Kimberly Whalen, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan

This is an artistic film, with huge ambition. There are tons of very visually stunning scenes, that appear unrelated, then we alternate from scenes from a grown man, Jack(Sean Penn), who is alone, reminiscing on his childhood,and his relationship between him and his siblings, and his father (Brad Pitt) who is very strict, a realist, and wants to raise tough manly sons, so he is quite a bit cruel and abusive, while still seeking strength from his boys, and a mother (Jessica Chastain) who is a dreamer, and still with a childlike innocence. Jack is trying to seek meaning in life and is trying to find a way somewhere in between mother and father.

This is definitely a “zero star” or “ten star” film. It seems to be split between lovers and haters. The problem with the film is that it’s perhaps overly symbolic, and nothing much goes on. The first 40 minutes or so of the film is just imagery of the creation of the universe, dueling dinosaurs, deserts, fish, etc, that look really great, but there is no real purpose. (Ok, that’s not true, there is a “meaning of life” type purpose I’m sure, but everyone has to sit through this beautiful imagery with no story part before the film even begins, and many people, I’m sure, walked out before the story began.)

Then when the story begins, we are barraged with little snippets of of conversations and moments that seem random. What do we know? Well, we know that one of the brothers died when he was 19, and none of them really got over it. Yes, I get that we’re viewing grown up Jack’s memories, and memories are fragmented, but movies typically tell a story, which this one really doesn’t. When we finally figure out what’s going on, suddenly we’re thrown back in the visual imagery with people walking around on a beach. The ending FINALLY comes up (after 2 hours and 15 minutes) and there’s absolutely no ending that I can see.

I can truly understand the people who love this film. It’s poetic, visually stunning, and you can make anything you want out of it. In fact, one guy made the comment that you see what you take in with you. If you’re looking for a Christian movie, it’s a Christian movie. Like wise if you’re Hindu or a nature lover, or a relationship councilor, that’s what you get out of it. Since the film starts with a quote from the book of Job in the Bible, I think that’s a hint to what the movie maker meant. In the quote, Job is question how God could allow all this bad stuff to happen to him, and God is answering that Job does not understand the scope of the creation of the galaxy, and the immensity of the universe and that Job is just a small speck in the scheme of things. Perhaps, that’s what he was going for. To show us, that Jack’s life, as difficult as it may have been for him, was just a small part compared to the history of the Universe. Likewise, I could be completely off my rocker and it’s about circus clowns. Who knows.

I did not rate this very high on my rating scale because I was really fidgeting an bored through the first 45 minutes. This is one movie I really, really, really wanted to turn off. But in order to review it, I have to watch it, so I forged through. Then when the story of the 1950’s family began, finally, I started to get interested and thought there might be a story in there finally. But I was disappointed again, as I didn’t get any meat out of it. It was like watching the Cliff Notes version of a story. Then more strange images and it was done. It felt like 10 hours instead of 2 1/4 and I certainly wouldn’t want to go through it again to see what I missed. But I know tons of people are going to love this.

It’s been compared frequently to 2001 A Space Odyssey, which I can see the comparison. 2001 was a film that did not give you any answers either, and you can bring whatever you want out of it. But 2001 I would rate as a 5 star film because though it was artistic and mystical, it had a great story in it. The “thought inducing” parts of what was the bigger meaning of the movie was an add on to the great story and a benefit that kept us talking about it for months and years afterwards. This doesn’t have the same kind of story to pique your interest. After this one is over I just felt used and ripped off.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog



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