Terence Malick, the once highly esteemed director of such art-film triumphs as Days of Heaven and The New World, runs aground with depressing finality in the haphazard tale of a burnt-out Hollywood personality (Christian Bale) taking stock of his life. It’s slim pickings all the way around. Bale’s interactions with an impressive cast of supporting actors (Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Imogen Poots, Brian Dennehy, et al.) go nowhere in particular. Malick’s signature establishing shots (trees, desert sunsets, more trees) begin to be an annoyance. Ninety percent of the dialogue is in voiceover. Bale, an expressive actor, is reduced to a bundle of tics. The writing is bankrupt. And so on. Maybe it’s time for the former philosophy professor — who was famous long ago for making brilliant movies every ten or fifteen years, but now seems to make bad ones every two — to do a little private wood-shedding of his own. His cup is empty, and that’s an awful shame (118 min.).
Director: Terrence Malick
Producer: Nicolas Gonda, Sarah Green, Ken Kao, Glen Basner and Tanner Beard
Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy, Antonio Banderas, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Freida Pinto, Cherry Jones, Ben Kingsley, Imogen Poots, Jason Clarke, Nick Kroll and Joe Lo Truglio