Long wait over as Terrence Malick film hits Cannes

Sun May 15, 2011 6:43pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - U.S. director Terrence Malick brings his eagerly anticipated drama "The Tree of Life" to the Cannes film festival on Monday, ending a long wait for movie fans and critics intrigued by only his fifth feature.

The picture has been the most talked about of the 20 entries in the main Cannes competition, and its world premiere brings stars of the stature of Brad Pitt and Sean Penn to the famous red carpet in the palm-lined Riviera resort.

It also marks the halfway point of this year's festival, where many critics argue that the glitz and glamour has yet to be matched by the overall quality of the competition films.

They are hoping for a lift from Malick, who famously took 20 years between making his second picture "Days of Heaven" in 1978 and third "The Thin Red Line" in 1998.

That movie, also starring Penn, won him his only Oscar nominations for writing and directing, although he is among the most respected U.S. film makers active today.

Secrecy surrounding The Tree of Life, and Malick's aversion to the kind of publicity most film makers crave, have given it an almost mythical status among cinephiles, and trailers and the official synopsis give little away.

The synopsis calls The Tree of Life an "impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950s."

It follows Jack, played by Penn, as he navigates his childhood and disillusioned adult years and seeks answers to the big questions of life.   Continued...