(On-demand video, March 2012) I’m not a good audience for non-narrative films that boldly seek art-house cinema credentials, but even I have nice things to say about The Tree of Life. Non-linear, certainly non-conventional, arguably nonsensical, it wraps up a chronicle of life in 1950s Texas in broader questions about our place in the universe. It may challenge viewers who prefer every narrative arc nearly wrapped up in a bow, but it certainly rewards those who are willing to let the film wash over them without grasping at explanations. (Just accept that this is a 1950s nostalgia film with modern skyscrapers, dinosaurs, a meteor impact, a depiction of Tipler’s Omega Point, and children running into a DDT spray.) Brad Pitt portrays an unusual role as an overbearing father of three boys, holding up the “ways of nature” over his wife’s “ways of grace”, but the real star here is writer/director Terrence Malick’s elliptical film-making and the astonishing quality of the footage he’s been able to include in the film. The mind may rebel at trying to piece together every shot of the film, but there’s something beautiful to see every five minutes, and the atmosphere created by the minutiae of life as experienced by the characters is all-encompassing. It’s hard not to be moved by certain moments, or let the film’s hints at meaning lead us to flights of fancy. This, in other words, is a film to savor for mood and meditation far more than narration and entertainment –you’ve been warned.