The Tree of Life
Simultaneously the most ambitious and intimate work of Terrence Malick's career, The Tree of Life is a film unlike any other in recent American cinema. At the film’s centre is a deeply personal evocation of life in 1950's Texas, with three children growing up under a stern father (Pitt) and loving mother (Chastain), but Malick rejects conventional notions of narrative, instead linking scenes through memories and emotions.
As disorientating as this approach may be, the film remains enthralling because of Malick's uncanny ability to capture serendipitous moments and elicit flawless performances from his cast. This section of the film would be good enough to earn The Tree of Life accolades on its own, but Malick daringly sets his tale of childhood innocence lost against awe-inspiring sequences of the birth of the universe and the afterlife. The Tree of Life won't resonate with everyone, but viewers approaching it with an open mind and a curious spirit may feel it touching their soul in a way that few films can.