The Variety Of Movie Experience by Geoffrey O’Brien
A review of Terrence Malick’s Tree Of Life in The New York Review
"Pitt, as patriarch, is master of language: he has more lines than anyone in the film. Jessica Chastain, as the mother who (her voice-over tells us) believes in “the way of grace,” is almost wordless but no less dominant a presence, a troublingly sensual font of unlimited love and emotional permission. The quarrels between the parents are glimpsed as if a child were spying on them, or overheard as the same child walks down the street to get away from the scene. Scenes of childhood are played in brief microscopic clips that merge into dream and distorted recollection. An aroma of Freudian family romance pervades the film like a cloud of slightly acrid perfume, and Malick (who has written a screenplay on the case that formed the basis of Breuer and Freud’s Studies in Hysteria) surrounds early sense impressions with silences and gaps suggestive of Freud’s “screen memory” that conceals another adjacent memory. Every view is partial, every glimpse interrupted."