Hate It or Love It

By Todd A. Smith

          Hate or it love it, Brad Pitt will still be on top, regardless of the box office numbers from his new The Tree of Life film.

            It is the type of movie that critics will love, and audiences will love not so much.  Nevertheless, The Tree of Life film is timely and relevant because it deals with the philosophical struggles that many people battle daily, which are is there really a loving God, where does life come from and what is one’s purpose on Earth?

            Jessica Chastain plays Mrs. O’Brien (Pitt’s wife), a religious woman who sees the beauty in God’s blessings and attempts to live the way He would want her to.  Nevertheless, when her son dies at 19 years old, she begins questioning her beliefs. 

            The O’Brien’s begin asking God “why” and “where were you” when their son needed protection.

            Although the story would have been better if told in chronological order, it’s depiction of how some believers doubt and question God’s judgment is usually never spoken aloud by people of faith.  However, all believers have been in Mrs. O’Brien’s shoes, not fully understanding God’s plan for their life, especially when misfortune falls upon the righteous.

            A pastor is there to comfort them, explaining to them that misfortune falls upon the good too.

            The Tree of Life film also shows the religious dynamic between many married couples; a deeply religious matriarch and a skeptical patriarch.

            Mr. O’Brien (Pitt) believes his wife is very naïve in her beliefs.  The story of Job is used as a metaphor, because the O’Brien’s tried to live righteously but still had everything taken away from them.

            Mr. O’Brien believes that the world’s religious beliefs are based in trickery.  He teaches his children that one cannot get ahead if they do not work hard and earn it themselves, a different world viewpoint than his religious spouse.

            Like many fathers in the 1950s, Mr. O’Brien is hard on his sons, believing that he is preparing them for the cruel realities of the world.  They rejoice when he goes out of town and are distant when he is around.  He believes that his wife is turning the children against him.

            The Tree of Life film succeeds because it tackles a weighty subject that few are bold enough to take head on.  However, The Tree of Life film may lose audiences with the special effects and science lessons throughout the film.

            However, the special effects show how beautiful all life is and can be if we took the time to see how beautiful it really is.

            At the end of the day, expect to see The Tree of Life film capture many awards in the near future, but expect audiences to not fall in love with the film as hard as the critics have fallen in love with it.

            Along with Pitt, the movie features award-winning actor Sean Penn as Jack and Hunter McCracken as a young Jack.  It is written and directed by Terrence Malick.

            The Tree of Life film is rated PG-13.







Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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