Cannes Film Festival lays a masterpiece

May 17, 2011

The “big guns” have come out at Cannes with the Festival reaching its mid-point.

Today was the well-received Dardennes’ brothers Kid With a Bike, and the American film by maverick Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life, a film that’s been gestating for several decades.

Toplining Sean Penn and Brad Pitt (who co-produced), The Tree of Life is a major work of art, film that’s a whole new way of seeing.

The film is framed by a majestic montage that serves as a kind of “overture” or preamble at the beginning of the film and a coda at the end. This represents the birth of the universe, introduced by a quote from The Book of Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

Its central core is a choppy and edgy coming-of-age-story with Brad Pitt the stern ex-marine father who tries to shape his kids and family with unrelenting authority.

Posing deep questions, many of them delivered in a narrated half-whisper, it is a challenging, demanding, and overwhelming beautiful film.

Whether or not it succeeds at the box-office is irrelevant. Here at Cannes its first screening was greeted with a mixture of boos and applause. It will stand the test of time.