The Tree of Life met with boos and cheers at Cannes

There are plenty of exciting films making their debut at the Cannes Film Festival, but none have set tongues wagging or been shrouded in more mystery than Terrence Malick’s long-delayed film-about-everything The Tree of Life.

The Brad Pitt/Sean Penn feature screened yesterday, and it almost kicked off a riot, with some cinephiles literally punching one another to get a coveted spot in the 2300-seat Lumiere Theatre.

Twitter was flooded with opinions following the film’s conclusion, including news that a small subset of patrons had booed when the picture faded to black. Deadline’s Pete Hammond countered that there was “good (but not spectacular) applause once Malick’s name came up onscreen.”

Critic James Rocchi offered a concise – and fittingly vague – plot synopsis on Twitter:

“Malick goes from Genesis to the end times, pausing in ’50s America, and will lose many along the way. Gorgeous, shapeless..”

Stephanie Zacharek at Movieline was less kind:

The Tree of Life is a gargantuan work of pretension and cleverly concealed self-absorption…”

Over at IndieWire, Kevin Jargenauth had this to say:

“With “The Tree Of Life” the director has once again created a cinematic experience that is uniquely his own, often powerful and mesmerizing, at times overreaching and overbearing, but never forgettable. It’s another bold stroke from one of cinema’s most original voices, so put aside the hype aside, and let “The Tree Of Life” take root.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshow meanwhile offered a five-star rave:

“Terrence Malick’s mad and magnificent film descends slowly, like some sort of prototypical spaceship: it’s a cosmic-interior epic of vainglorious proportions, a rebuke to realism, a disavowal of irony and comedy, a meditation on memory, and a gasp of horror and awe at the mysterious inevitability of loving, and losing those we love.”

Although reactions were mixed, almost everyone agreed they would need more time to digest and ruminate on Malick’s latest. So, ignore the above then!

The Tree of Life will make its Australian debut at the Sydney Film Festival, before opening nationwide June 30, 2011.

Discuss: Looking forward to The Tree of Life?

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