Two-time Oscar champ Sean Penn (“Mystic River,” “Milk”) certainly won’t win any awards for tact. He told the French newspaper Le Figaro that he thought director Terrence Malick failed to realize the full potential of his script for “The Tree of Life.”
As Penn explained, “I didn’t at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I’ve ever read. A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact.” Reviewers disagree as the movie scores an impressive 85 at MetaCritic. And our editors and users have the film in third place among the Best Picture contenders.
The outspoken actor, who played the protagonist of the piece whose flashbacks form much of the movie, admitted, “Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What’s more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly.”
However, Penn did allow that, “It’s a film I recommend on the condition that one go only without preconceptions. It’s up to each to find a personal emotional or spiritual connection. Those that reach this generally leave very moved.”