Far be it for me to contradict the Cannes Film Festival jury, or some critics who saw The Tree of Life there and sang its praises to the skies, but I respectfully disagree. I would never dismiss the film out of hand—it has too many beautiful passages, conveying the conflicting emotions of childhood—but I think its reach exceeds its grasp. One can applaud Terrence Malick for attempting something as bold as a picture that ruminates on the place of mankind in nature and the history of the universe. But even an ambitious artist has to be judged on results, not intentions. I couldn’t connect the “big bang,” or the interaction of dinosaurs, with the life of a family in 1950s Texas, and frankly, I found the shots of protozoa, flowing water, and the cosmos itself to be beautiful but—
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