Sean Penn didn’t get The Tree of Life either

The traditionally warm and complimentary Sean Penn has shockingly spoken out about Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in an abrasive manner.

Penn stars in the film as the adult Jack O’Brien, who is still recovering from a traumatic youth spent with his cruel father (Brad Pitt), as well as the untimely death of his brother. Midway through the picture, Malick breaks away from that narrative to detail the creation of the universe, leaving much of Penn’s performance on the cutting room floor.

The Oscar winner shared with French magazine Le Figaro his criticisms of the film (translated by In Contention):

“I didn’t at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that I’ve ever read. A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What’s more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly.”

I personally think The Tree of Life – in its current, non-linear, Penn-lite form – is a masterpiece (and I’m certainly not alone). However, Penn’s forthright quotes do deserve acknowledgement, and they seem to be greater than a mere ‘actor upset about being cut’ gripe. See Adrien Brody discussing his slicing from Malick’s The Thin Red Line for that instead.

Still, perhaps Penn should have taken note of this warning message posted in certain U.S. cinemas about The Tree of Life‘s unique narrative.

Discuss: Does Penn’s complaint hold any weight?

One Response to “Sean Penn didn’t get The Tree of Life either”

  1. The script was a masterpiece. And Penn is right – with a very few tweaks, including not cutting so much of Penn’s character out (because we lost the impact and understanding of seeing how all of this experience shaped or impacted upon the adult he became, or how it affected the experience of losing his brother) – the movie could have been one, too. The way of telling a story in those largely unnarrated memories (reflecting how we learn and experience and reflecting the way memories play out in our minds) was certainly visionary. It actually irritates the hell out of me that he created a movie that is 90% brilliant, when it would have taken so little to take it to that 100%.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: