Watched: 25 October
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this, the latest from Terrence Malick, due to my ambivalence towards To The Wonder, an outright dislike of Knight Of Cups (aka the arthouse Entourage) and the knowledge that this was pretty much shot back-to-back with the latter and employed the exact same style as both of those two films and, to an ever-so-slightly lesser extent, The Tree Of Life; i.e. we get more of Malick’s late period fondness for elliptical narratives, half-whispered dialogue, floaty, hand-held camerawork and the loose, sketch-like attempts at drawing characters who seem to do little other than twirl through a thousand different locations. I liked the freshness of The Tree Of Life, and can connect the dots from the past three or four films to his earlier work happily enough, but To The Wonder, Song To Song and Knight Of Cups haven’t done much for me at all.
It all looks very good – you’ve got Emmanuel Lubezki shooting beautiful people such as Fassbender, Mara, Gosling, Portman and Blanchett in sparkly rich people places during the magic hour, and there’s a certain bright, white sheen to it all (my god the very whiteness of this film, and Malick’s recent work, is blinding) – but I’m just really bored by everything other than the cinematography, yet again. Bored by all the fucking characters tracing their fingers along fucking chain-link fences or coyly spinning around in their fucking curtains in their beautiful fucking condos while nuzzling one another’s necks. Bored by wondering who the fuck these people are for two hours and why the fuck I should care about any of them or their existential fucking crises. Bored by the fucking dreadful use of music (the scene in which two characters dance to Del Shannon’s Runaway is among the most laughable I’ve seen all year) and bored by wondering what exactly has happened to Terrence Malick. Plenty of people seem to really like it though, and enjoy the challenges Malick is presenting as well as his continued exploration of certain themes, so that’s good… but I seem to be feeling far too much frustration to even begin to have a good time, and am very much looking forward to the much-mooted switch to clearer, more linear narratives and audible dialogue. (**)