The Tree of Life 2011

Critics score:
84 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: Glibly put, this challenging time-skipping rumination is the big screen equivalent of watching that "Tree" grow. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: What Malick does in "Tree of Life" is create the span of lives. Of birth, childhood, the flush of triumph, the anger of belittlement, the poison of resentment, the warmth of forgiving. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: The vision is dazzling. The portrayal of family life palpable. The ending ... well, let's go back to the vision. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: The Tree of Life is both luminously precise ... and maddeningly without form and void. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: An audacious visual poet known for gently probing life's big questions, Malick has gone to the source of it all. He's gifted enough to bring out the spiritual dimensions of astrophysics. Read more

Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies:'s the most bold and unconventional and visionary picture made using the apparatus of big-studio pictures since Kubrick's [2001]. Read more

A.O. Scott, New York Times: With disarming sincerity and daunting formal sophistication "The Tree of Life" ponders some of the hardest and most persistent questions, the kind that leave adults speechless when children ask them. Read more

David Fear, Time Out: I have no idea what I'll think of it tomorrow, next week, ten years from now, but it demands a repeat viewing. Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: We've shared in something divine. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: Will you find it ridiculously sublime or sublimely ridiculous? Don't be afraid to find it both. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Daring in concept, occasionally daffy in execution and ultimately unforgettable, Mr. Malick's film offers a heartfelt answer to the question of where we humans belong- with each other, on this planet, bound by love. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Some will dismiss its overarching themes and elliptical visuals as pretentious. Others might question its quasi-biblical images. But the artistry in every frame is undeniable. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: This film's rewards are many, for those with the patience to simply let it float. Read more

Mike D'Angelo, AV Club: The Tree of Life remains, for a time, thrillingly impressionistic, eschewing any semblance of conventional narrative in favor of a fragmentary approach in which glancing, allusive snippets of light, breath, and motion bum-rush the camera lens... Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: Without anchoring himself to a larger historical event, Malick has made a startlingly direct expression of man's relationship to the natural world and to other forces beyond human comprehension. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: Beautiful, baffling, poetic, pretentious, it's one big ball of moviedom. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: If you're open to letting the imagery wash over you, to allowing yourself to get sucked into the film's rhythms and fluidly undulating tones, you'll be wowed. Read more

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: This movie weighs so much, yet contains so little. It's all vault and little coin. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: These audacious sequences can't help but evoke the metaphysical questing of 2001, and in fact The Tree of Life often feels like a religious response to Stanley Kubrick's cold, cerebral view of our place in the universe. Not to be missed. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: I've seen it twice now, and though this childhood was not my childhood, and my spiritual yearnings are not Malick's, "The Tree of Life" already has come to mean a great deal to me. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: It's a phenomenal artwork but, for all its solar flares, it's cold to the touch. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: What a transcendent achievement. Read more

Laremy Legel, The ambition of Tree of Life is sweeping and robust. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: Brandishing an ambition it's likely no film, including this one, could entirely fulfill, The Tree of Life is nonetheless a singular work, an impressionistic metaphysical inquiry into mankind's place in the grand scheme of things. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: Are you looking for serious philosophizing, fluid filmmaking and stunning images? Or are satisfying drama and deep emotional connection what draws you in? Ideally you would have both, but that is not the case here. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: In this flawed yet masterful, unforgettable movie, Malick argues that even the tiniest mote can have value. He sees miracles everywhere. You just have to make an effort to see them, too. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: Amid one's exasperation, there is no mistaking Malick's unfailing ability to grab at glories on the fly. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Both sharply smart and maddeningly elusive, it's yet another film by a great director working at the height of his powers to do something genuinely new. Read more

Bob Mondello, NPR: The Tree of Life is astonishing in some spots, almost incoherent in others and if it doesn't frustrate you at least some of the time ... you're not paying attention. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: "The Tree of Life" is long, often redundant and certainly on its own wavelength. But movies so rarely provoke serious consideration and debate. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: It's overflowing with powerful images that will stay with me a long time, even if I still can't explain some of them. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: [Malick is] a meticulous visionary who knows where to place a camera, but he hasn't a clue about how to tell a story with simplicity and coherence. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: [It] not only aspires to change your life - it tries to explain it, from the first cosmic blip to those busy amoebae splitting and multiplying, to jellyfish jellying through the primal seas, to the planets lined up in a row. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Striving for no less than the pinnacle of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Tree of Life falls short of masterful but retains a power that far too many motion pictures lack. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard "Tree of Life" is a cinematic poem that will challenge your intellect, your faith and at times your patience. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: 'Tree' delivers truths that don't go down easy. No one with a genuine interest in the potential of film would think of missing it. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, It's a noble crazy, a miraculous William Butler Yeats kind of crazy, alive with passion for art and the world, for all that is lost and not lost and still to come. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: "The Tree of Life" is at times trying and perplexing, but it also contains some of the most psychologically insightful and ecstatic filmmaking imaginable. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Here's a testament to this reclusive, stubborn, visionary director's stunning achievement: His films can change the way you look at the world by showing you how another person sees it. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: It's a flawed but impressive experiment, the sort of shoot-the-moon gamble that cinema can't do without. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The Tree of Life" is rooted in human nature but ascends to the infinite mystery. It's a dizzying climb with few footholds for the timid or cynical, but the view from above is heavenly. Read more

Christopher Orr, The Atlantic: A beautiful, messy film: at times lyrical, intimate, and uplifting; at others, vast, inscrutable, and maddening. Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: The result actually plays like a divine pronouncement, cosmic in scope and oracular in tone, a cinematic sermon on the mount that shows its creator in exquisite form. Exquisite but frustrating. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Wonder, dread, hope. They're among the emotions prompted by the cascade of images in something that's closer to epic poetry than to anything resembling narrative cinema. Read more

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: It doesn't always communicate well, and when it does, it's sometimes trite, but it's also a film that's incredibly beautiful and wide open for the taking. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: Few American filmmakers are as alive to the splendor of the natural world as Terrence Malick, but even by his standards, The Tree of Life represents something extraordinary. Read more

Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice: Better than a masterpiece -- whatever that is -- The Tree of Life is an eruption of a movie, something to live with, think, and talk about afterward. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: Both good and bad, great and fatally flawed, transporting and disappointingly literal. Read more