Beautifully filmed...has the director's musical stamp on it as well
25 October 2012
To begin, Director Terrence Malick films the scenes and juxtaposes images. At times there is an incongruity. There are interesting visuals of a forest, the beginning of time, and references to biological and biochemical interactions.

The story itself, Mr. O'Brien (Brad Pitt) as an ordinary working man in Waco, Texas in the 1950's with three sons to raise. His wife, portrayed by Chastain, does a good portrayal here of the mother, at times oppressed, at times happy and joyful just to have her children, especially when Dad is away trying to get his creative patents (which never come to fruition).

The authentic era of the 1950's is re-visited here, with elaborate music score and visuals. We see the mother hanging laundry outside on the clothesline. We see a small town where people dress formally just to go to the general store, and war veterans returning from World War II. We see the children playing in a seemingly idyllic American town, running under sprinklers, playing with dogs, chasing after a city truck spraying DDT randomly.

There is a sadness to the family story. Jack the oldest has ongoing conflicts with his father, and at first is consumed with anger for being disciplined. A father who is rigidly following the dogma of an "American Dream" in some sense.

Brad Pitt is believable in this role. Understated, but a strict religious man who believes God will provide as long as you go to work everyday and are a 'good man'. However even his 10 year old son sees the hypocrisy. The father may take them to church and explain the preacher's interpretations of Job and biblical references of material loss. Yet at the same time he drives the boys through well-to-do areas, coaching them on how they must succeed, and be hardened to 'get ahead' in America.

There are many nuances to the film, it needs to be viewed more than once, and granted the underlying themes are subtle.

The ending has visuals with references to, opening doors, entering gates of consciousness. As "adult Jack" Sean Penn is the embodiment of a boy's journey to himself.

The music is Brahms, and tells the unveiling of one boy's life, with references to incipient life itself at the start of the film.

This is not a film for the myopic, or any wanting concrete answers. It simply is about the reality of life, in that we are only human, a part of creation, but cannot presume to know what God wants. Or even what we ourselves sometimes want or need, until we have gone through the journey.

Highly recommended. 10/10.
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