The Sea of Trees (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Sea of Trees (2016)



Critic Consensus: Dull, maudlin, and fundamentally empty, The Sea of Trees extinguishes the contributions of a talented cast and marks a depressing low point in director Gus Van Sant's career.

The Sea of Trees Videos

The Sea of Trees Photos

Movie Info

The film follows Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) trekking into Aokigahara, known as the Sea of Trees, a mysterious dense forest at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji where people go to contemplate life and death. Having found the perfect place to die, Arthur encounters Takumi Nakamura (Watanabe), a Japanese man who has also lost his way. The two men begin a journey of reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur's will to live and reconnects him to his love with his wife (Watts).

Watch it now


Matthew McConaughey
as Arthur Brennan
Naomi Watts
as Joan Brennan
Ken Watanabe
as Takumi Nakamura
Katie Aselton
as Gabriella Laforte
James Saito
as Dr. Takahashi
as Cabin Attendant
Susan Garibotto
as Arthur's Friend
Mark Burzenski
as Gas Station Customer
Richard Levine
as Funeral Director
Ryoko Seta
as Airport Desk Agent
Ai Yoshihara
as Mental Health Specialist
Phyllis A. Gordon
as Hospital Administrator
Jeffrey Corazzini
as Arthur's Friend
Michael Steven Swanson
as Funeral Mourner
J.T. Turner
as Accident Witness
Joseph Oliveira
as Gas Station Clerk
Ami Haruna
as Game Show Host
Charles Van Eman
as Paul Wescott
Jimi Stanton
as Mailman
Simba Dibinga
as Ambulance Tech #2
Joseph Baken
as Male Student
Roy Y. Chan
as Japanese Nurse
View All

News & Interviews for The Sea of Trees

Critic Reviews for The Sea of Trees

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (14)

Van Sant seems unsure of what kind of movie he's making or what he's trying to say. It's best to just enjoy the scenery and look the other way.

September 2, 2016 | Rating: C | Full Review…

No wonder Watts rules the movie. She's playing the only remotely sympathetic character; the men seem consumed by grief and guilt and platitudes.

September 1, 2016 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

The Sea of Trees uses depression, cancer and suicide as manipulative devices to tug at heartstrings instead of offering insight into the human condition.

August 26, 2016 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

A numinous meditation on grief that's more likely to inspire laughter than tears.

August 25, 2016 | Full Review…

A stronger movie experience than one might expect. It's anchored by a fine, understated performance by Matthew McConaughey and a deeply felt, if at times melodramatic, story that proves strangely immersive.

August 25, 2016 | Full Review…

[A] soggy mess of a movie ...

August 25, 2016 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Sea of Trees


I had heard the film was poorly reviewed but being a Van Sant fan I knew I had to watch this film at some stage. I had watched Gerry a week ago and must admit I found this to be a companion piece to that film, I couldn't find the distaste everybody else did. The film score is slightly odd and the dark subject matter might put others off but I feel like everybody was jumping on the hate train for this film. The performances are raw and true, I was glued to the screen watching these three great actors fill the time. The slow pace isn't anywhere near the pace of Gerry and that story was nowhere as talkative as this film. I really hope people rediscover this film, it's an artistic film and further proof of the talent Sant brings to every film. Not nearly as grim or muddled as the reviews would have you believe, this is a well acted story about discovery and forgiveness. 20-07-2017.

Brendan Nicholls
Brendan Nicholls

Super Reviewer

A pretentious, vapid and depressingly stupid drama that believes to be a lot more beautiful than it is, with cheesy, predictable twists and a baffling lack of insight into anything it sets out to discuss, despite McConaughey putting a lot of dedication into it with a good performance.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The Sea of Trees Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features