Terrence Malick has created another visually beautiful film, insisting that the art form emerge from striking imagery as opposed to a strong, character-driven narrative. This is a non-descript story about non-descript individuals, with our only connection to them stemming from the narration that pervades over every scene and the visuals that accompany them. This film, cinematographically, is one of the most striking I’ve ever seen; scene after scene left me in awe, for it’s remarkable the sense of vision Malick can provide. It’s frustrating that his works are becoming increasingly abstract, although 2011’s The Tree of Life was a masterpiece, and a bold one at that. This one is grounded in emotion, in love, with these characters torn by…what, exactly?
The film’s abstract to a fault, at times, with no true connection to what Malick is trying to say. Yet I can never discredit the man who has so consistently demonstrated his talents behind the screen: he’s one of the few directors alive who understands how to engage an audience when essentially nothing is happening on screen. And in doing so, in making a film that is so increasingly ambiguous, it makes for what might be his most accessible film yet. There’s enough sensual moments, of father figures and religious symbolism and raw sexuality, that the movie connects on many levels, if never as deeply as he would hope. Emotionally, the film is strong and constant, yet unidentifiable. What does Malick want to say about love? It’s a good question, probably one he intended for; I enjoyed the film quite a bit, which puts me in the minority, but so be it. I saw a lot of beauty in his film, and in his characters, even if they are so detached from reality that they wander through fields for most of their time.