A good year for women on film, as exemplified in new releases The Eyes of My Mother, Miss Sloane, and more
Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
Used to be an actor went public with negative feelings concerning a project they were involved in and s/he wasn't long for a career in Tinseltown.
Sean Penn's refreshingly candid thumbnail assessment of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life was plucked from an interview with the French magazine Le Figaro, and brought to our attention by The New Yorker's estimable Richard Brody:
"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."
Normally one to seize every opportunity to knock the vainglorious Oscar-winner who seldom makes me suspend disbelief long enough to forget I'm watching an actor act, this is one of those rare occasions where Penn isn't indulging in narcissistic pursuits. First off, the actor's comments reflect the feelings of many in need of a roadmap to guide them through Malick's pompous attempt to marry Kubrick and This Boy's Life. And Penn's statement does not reflect the thoughts of someone exploring uncharted turf. IndieWire reminds us that he is "one of the few actors in Hollywood intimately familiar with Malick’s process, having assisted in the editing bay on The Thin Red Line.
Penn later tried to soften his comment by adding, "it’s a film I recommend, as long as you go in without any preconceived ideas. It’s up to each person to find their own personal, emotional or spiritual connection to it. Those that do generally emerge very moved."