It would be a gross oversimplification to say that Terrence Malick's new film, "The Tree of LIfe," is about religion, or even a singular definition of God. In many ways, the enigmatic filmmaker aims his camera higher, seeking answers found only in a celestial history beyond our understanding -- or creating those answers for himself.
At once the story of the big bang and the Earth's slow ascent to present, with competing explanations from scripture and startling imaginings of science's creation story, the film also features, in sketches and broken memories, the story of a God-fearing man and the family he damages with his ungodly anger.
Brad Pitt plays that 1950's Texan man, a regular churchgoer who prays with an anger not often found in the sanctuary. The role is as much about simmering looks and fractured inner turmoil as it is delivering lines in a southern drawl, requiring a certain simmering understanding of the character. It seems that, for Pitt, there was a natural connection to the part; as he told reporters at the film's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival (where it was greeted with both boos and applause), he can relate to that sort of God-fearing upbringing.
"I got brought up being told things were God's way, and when things didn't work out it was called God's plan," the star told assembled press (via Extra). "I've got my issues with it. Don't get me started. I found it very stifling."
Speaking of the mysterious workings of his "Tree of Life" director, Pitt was much more enthusiastic -- or at least bemused.
“It’s like he’s waiting with a butterfly net to catch what was going by that day.” he said, according to Indiewire. “It’s exhausting.”