Sean Penn Trashes The Tree Of Life In French Interview

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, translated here by The New Yorker, Sean Penn ripped director Terrence Malick and their movie The Tree of Life.

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.

Do you agree? For me, The Tree of Life is among the best movies of 2011. Terrence Malick’s power is in his visuals and the grace and style of The Tree of Life, for me, was wildly moving and evocative.

For her part, Sean Penn’s co-star Jessica Chastain had nothing but kind things to say about the film in an interview with us at We Got This Covered and in the interview, quoted below, with Collider.

It’s a film that asks way more questions than it answers [Laughs]. When people tell me they’re going to see the film, I always tell them it’s not the film you go see after a hard day of work and want to turnoff. This is the film you have to open your heart and mind to. You have to actively participate in the film-going experience. It’s okay if you don’t understand every single image or exactly what the story-line is. Just let it seep into you. It could be something you have a reaction to the next day, the next week, or even in a year. The first time I saw it was a year ago, and it was constantly popping up in my mind.

Fellow The Tree of Life star Brad Pitt has had nothing but praise for director Terrence Malick and his vision for The Tree of Life as well. In an interview with Time Magazine at the Cannes Film Festival, Pitt praised Terrence Malick for his dedication to the project for which the director began collecting footage for back in the late 1970’s.

It’s fair to note however, that many moviegoers have shared Sean Penn’s reaction to The Tree of Life. Reports from screenings of The Tree of Life since it began its platform release back in March of this year have shown a number of walkouts.

The Tree of Life walkouts in fact caused at least one theater to post the warning below.

Where do you come down on this new The Tree of Life controversy? Team Penn or Team Malick?

About the author


Sean Kernan

I have been a film critic online and on the radio for 12 year years. I am a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association as well as a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association.