Remember the good old days, when men were men, Amiga’s were rife and Terrence Malick only made one film a decade?
Movie geeks and critics alike celebrated his ambiguity and lack of directorial output by declaring him a genius.
They were all, “OMG Badlands is genius!”
“OMG The Thin Red Line is genius!”
“OMG The New World has Colin Farrell in it!”
And then he made The Tree of Life and every one went batshit crazy. Respected critics put him on their top ten lists, he won the Palm Tree in France and everyone else went “was that… good?”
Including Sean Penn.
But I liked it. Sort of.
Sure, it was a slow paced, repetitive, self-indulgent and under edited unsubtle god fest but it had it’s moments.
Jessica Chastain floating upside down.
Amongst the wanky floaty above the heads magic hour shots and dinosaurs developing morality there was substance, or at least a good solid film about childhood. And wasn’t it nice having a film maker do something so unlinear that played in multiplexes and made money?
It was nice he was able to do that.
But he should have really stopped there. Gone back to Harper Lee style isolation. Learnt how to make the best broccoli soup he could. Memorised Dante’s Inferno. Watched all of Gossip Girl. Instead he believed all the plaudits and hype, ignored Sean Penn’s series of “WTF interviews” and made “To The Wonder.”
Malick took all the methods he used for shooting The Tree of Life, and constructed a less plot driven, and MORE wanky pastiche of his previous work. Within the first five minutes I wanted to leave, apologise to the person I was with for even suggesting we had seen it, go back in a time machine and kill my mother so I would never had been born, punch Affleck in his stupid little beardless face.
The plot (HAHAHAHAHAHA): Ben Affleck flounces about with Olga Kurylenko and her daughter in France for twenty minutes, whilst she narrates vague platitudes about love, life and different ways she can melt in French. This adds to the UTTER PRETENTIOUSNESS WHICH PERMANTES THE FILM. She says nothing of consequence at all, just bullshit like “Love melts me, but we fly up into the sun, with love, but you could not love me the way I wanted love to love us, I am a newborn candle, and you are putting your fingers in me and letting the wax dry and pretending you have melty wax hands and you are touching my face and it is like you are a ghost or I am a ghost.”
You think I am exaggerating for humorous effect? These are the actual words from the film.
Newborn. I open my eyes. I melt. Into the eternal night. A spark. You got me out of the darkness. You gathered me up from earth. You’ve brought me back to life.
Ben Affleck brings nothing to the relationship. As in he literally says nothing. At all. He has three lines.
Unless I missed out on some underlying plot thread about him being a deaf mute. It’s possible. Maybe it was Daredevil 2: This Time He Can’t Speak Either
Affleck watches Olga dance around open spaces like a child with severe learning difficulties. Its like, if you’re a woman in a Malick film, you have to either be constantly dancing, or looking a bit confused whilst fingering hay fields. Laura Mulvey would have a fucking field day with this film. A literal FIELD day. Getit???? LOLOLOL.
(Laura Mulvey wrote stuff on how men are perverts and the camera is like a eyeball perving on women, and if you did a degree related to media you can drop her name occasionally and sound smart, or like you learnt something.)
Affleck spends about 80% of the film taking Olga for walks through hay fields and whilst she dances, he looks into the middle distance thinking about the movie Paycheck. Or breathes a sigh of relief that no one is actually that fussed about the lack of historical accuracy in Argo/racism. Then he paws Olga’s neck looking like he has never loved anyone less and she occasionally hides behind curtains, flounces through American supermarkets, crawls around a couple more fields and he pretends to smother her once in a while.
If this is how relationships are meant to be, I am doing relationships wrong.
So Kurylenko and her annoying daughter move to this empty house in mid America and look a bit out of place. Everyone in the neighbour hood is common and stupid and redneck and asks her idiotic questions about how she is liking America so far. It’s as if they don’t realise she is the spirit of a dragonfly. Her daughter doesn’t speak any English, and mostly asks Affleck when the fuck he is going to marry her mother.
Affleck plays Erin Brockovich in this film and measures the toxins in any clear liquid he can find. If there is a puddle near by he will stick his ACME toxin measurer 2000 into it and look nonchalant about the results, so either his entire family is slowly being poisoned to death, or everything is cool. Or maybe the river is love, and it is being poisoned to death and Affleck is just WATCHING IT HAPPEN. Mind. Blown.
So, Affleck watches Olga and her spawn dance around the house for six hours. I would be like, stop dancing, lets actually put some furniture in this house. I know it’s a metaphor for my inability to settle down with you, but we should at least have a plant pot somewhere.
But they soon grow unhappy. SURPRISINGLY For her, walking through the hay fields looses its joy as does marvelling in French at the cleanness of America, and for him not understanding French soon becomes a problem. It’s like the worst holiday romance ever.
(We also know they are unhappy because they walk around different parts of the empty house and avoid each other. I am beginning to think this is the film version of the game The Sims. That would make the most sense.)
Poor old Olga’s visa expires (poor planning) and Javiar Bardem turns up as a priest. He gives lectures about how great Jesus is, but monologues vapidly about how he is having a crisis of faith and love. Luckily curing meth addicts and speaking to deaf people soon sorts him out.
Kurylenko goes back to Paris. Thank fuck. She dances onto a plane and Affleck doesn’t give a toss. He shacks up with McAdams, who also crawls through fields and fingers ears of corn, and has a ranch, and OH NATURE IS SO BRILLIANT, and has no conversations with Affleck but they are sooooo in love. They mostly bump into each other like real life RPG players, paw at each other, and then Kurylenko comes back and Affleck dumps McAdams for her.
Bye McAdams, i’m sure your character was better realised when you shot the film. In fact if you put it back together its probably The Vow 2: This Time I Remember a Bit More.
But Kurylenko is pretty miserable in Paris. We know this because she looks both suspicious and sad whilst moving on stuff like trains and elevators. When I am heartbroken I look at everything like it wants to fuck me or punch me or set me on fire. “Hey train window, what the fuck you gonna do? Hey, French streetlight you wanna have sex and never call me in the morning? Yeah I thought so.”
So she comes back without her kid who is staying with her dad. But she doesn’t give a fuck, that bitch hangs up on her during a skype chat. Sadly little has changed for Affleck. The house is STILL WITHOUT FURNITURE, although they do move a chest of drawers at one point and have their second of three conversations.
“Push?” She says
“No pull.” He says.
And OH isn’t it metaphorical about the to’s and fro’s of love. I DID NOT REALISE WHEN THE CHUCKLE BROTHERS SAID “TO ME” “TO YOU” THEY WERE ACTUALLY EXPRESSING THEIR INEXPRESSIBLE EROTIC FEELINGS FOR EACH OTHER.
Fuck you Malick.
They get married, twice for some reason, and are soon back where they started, dancing around fields and crying and touching each others necks, and arguing but she is still so sad. She needs to get on some of those good old fashioned American Antidepressants. Crawling through parks and fondling mud doesn’t cheer her up like it use to. She shags some really ugly local guy. Affleck mad about this, Affleck smash wing mirror. But he forgives her. Maybe. And then she leaves anyway, but its cool, she is keeping his name and she shagged the ugly guy because her foreign friend told her to really live, and demonstrated this by getting her to throw her bag into a hedge.
Note that her friend did not throw her own bag into the hedge.
So she leaves. Again. And Affleck is shown with two children, so he probably met someone who didn’t act like a three year old. Or didn’t care that he had no personality.
When the film finished I actually said, “I want Terrence Malick to give me two hours of my life back.”
I never say stuff like that out loud. I only say it when I role play I am the lead in a NBC comedy.
Please don’t see this film. Don’t encourage him. Just spend your money on blockbusters.