Poetic masterpiece takes on meaning of life - The Tree of Life (PG)

IT’S a mighty thing when one of the world’s most respected filmmakers, albeit a very elusive and non-prolific one, comes up with a film that aims to put the human experience, in all its small joys and tragedies, in some sort of cosmic perspective. 

This recent winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival was much debated. There were detractors and supporters. I have to declare myself as one of the latter. It is a magnificent film that puts at its core, from the opening moments, the opposing forces of ‘nature’ and ‘grace’.

It’s set in a number of time zones, the most significant one of which is 1950s Waco, Texas, one of the places where director Malick is reputed to have been born. 

It makes sense that he grew up here because the evocation of the era is palpable, with father Mr O’Brien (Pitt) holding autocratic sway over his three sons and wife (Chastain).