The Tree of Life Reviews

Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
Top Critic
June 16, 2011

This film's rewards are many, for those with the patience to simply let it float.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
Top Critic
June 15, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic
June 13, 2011

Glibly put, this challenging time-skipping rumination is the big screen equivalent of watching that "Tree" grow.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic
June 10, 2011

"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.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
Top Critic
June 10, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Tom Long
Detroit News
Top Critic
June 10, 2011

The vision is dazzling. The portrayal of family life palpable. The ending ... well, let's go back to the vision.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
Top Critic
June 10, 2011

What a transcendent achievement.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic
June 9, 2011

[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.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
Top Critic
June 9, 2011

Beautiful, baffling, poetic, pretentious, it's one big ball of moviedom.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
Top Critic
June 9, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Christopher Orr
The Atlantic
Top Critic
June 3, 2011

A beautiful, messy film: at times lyrical, intimate, and uplifting; at others, vast, inscrutable, and maddening.

Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
Top Critic
June 3, 2011

Both good and bad, great and fatally flawed, transporting and disappointingly literal.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
Top Critic
June 3, 2011

This movie weighs so much, yet contains so little. It's all vault and little coin.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
Top Critic
June 2, 2011

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.

Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic
June 2, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: A-
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic
June 2, 2011

"The Tree of Life" is at times trying and perplexing, but it also contains some of the most psychologically insightful and ecstatic filmmaking imaginable.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic
June 2, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic
June 2, 2011

It's a flawed but impressive experiment, the sort of shoot-the-moon gamble that cinema can't do without.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Bob Mondello
NPR
Top Critic
May 31, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 10/10
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic
May 28, 2011

It's a phenomenal artwork but, for all its solar flares, it's cold to the touch.

Full Review | Original Score: B
Dana Stevens
Slate
Top Critic
May 27, 2011

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.

Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic
May 27, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic
May 27, 2011

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.

Lou Lumenick
New York Post
Top Critic
May 27, 2011

It's overflowing with powerful images that will stay with me a long time, even if I still can't explain some of them.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
Top Critic
May 27, 2011

"The Tree of Life" is long, often redundant and certainly on its own wavelength. But movies so rarely provoke serious consideration and debate.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Claudia Puig
USA Today
Top Critic
May 26, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic
May 26, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
Top Critic
May 26, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Scott Tobias
AV Club
Top Critic
May 26, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: A
A.O. Scott
New York Times
Top Critic
May 26, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
Top Critic
May 26, 2011

'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.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
Top Critic
May 25, 2011

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.

Keith Uhlich
Time Out New York
Top Critic
May 25, 2011

We've shared in something divine.

Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic
May 25, 2011

The Tree of Life is both luminously precise ... and maddeningly without form and void.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Rex Reed
New York Observer
Top Critic
May 25, 2011

[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.

Nick Pinkerton
Village Voice
Top Critic
May 24, 2011

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.

Anthony Lane
New Yorker
Top Critic
May 24, 2011

Amid one's exasperation, there is no mistaking Malick's unfailing ability to grab at glories on the fly.

Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
Top Critic
May 23, 2011

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

Full Review | Original Score: 4.0/5
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic
May 23, 2011

Will you find it ridiculously sublime or sublimely ridiculous? Don't be afraid to find it both.

Laremy Legel
Film.com
Top Critic
May 21, 2011

The ambition of Tree of Life is sweeping and robust.

Full Review | Original Score: B
Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
Top Critic
May 19, 2011

...it's the most bold and unconventional and visionary picture made using the apparatus of big-studio pictures since Kubrick's [2001].

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic
May 18, 2011

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.

Mike D'Angelo
AV Club
Top Critic
May 17, 2011

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...

Full Review | Original Score: B
David Fear
Time Out New York
Top Critic
May 17, 2011

I have no idea what I'll think of it tomorrow, next week, ten years from now, but it demands a repeat viewing.

Justin Chang
Variety
Top Critic
May 16, 2011

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.

Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic
May 16, 2011

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.

Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
Top Critic
May 16, 2011

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.

Dave Calhoun
Time Out
Top Critic
May 16, 2011

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.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5