I don’t think there’s anything terribly thrilling in the official announcement that Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life will have its world premiere at Cannes 2011. The big news would have been if Fox Searchlight, the film’s distributor, had decided not to show it there. But we all knew this was coming, just as we know that if Malick could have figured a way to delay showing Tree another year, he would have done so.
Things have changed since The Tree of Life was a no-show at Cannes 2010, and I’m telling you that this Sean Penn-and-Brad Pitt darn-my-dad family dysfunction flick is no longer enough to truly quicken the pulse of the Cannes cognoscenti. In terms of showing a film by a major American auteur and/or some sort of prestige-level director, Cannes 2011 needs something else to make itself vibrant and whole.
Because Tree, I fear, is going to deflate when it finally screens. Too much time in post-production always indicates convolution and a lack of clarity — let’s face it — and it often means double-trouble when the film in question is based on a decades-old idea and a dust-covered script that a director has been waiting half his life to put before cameras.
No, we need something else from this country to play Cannes. As George Clooney said to Tilda Swinton in the finale of Michael Clayton, “I want more.” Something bolder and out of the blue — ballsier, more exciting, cooler, more flamboyant, etc. Because Malick, gifted fellow that he is, has fiddle-faddled for too long. I’m sorry, but that’s how it smells now. And I’m saying this as someone who would dearly love to be proved wrong, if warranted. But I know in my heart and in my insect-antennae vibrations that this film is going to be trouble.