— Roger Ebert
Reviews, Four star reviews, Context: Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is a film of vast ambition and deep humility, attempting no less than to encompass all of existence and view it through the prism of a few infinitesimal lives. The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling. … I don't know when a film has connected more immediately with my own personal experience. In uncanny ways, the central events of The Tree of Life reflect a time and place I lived in, and the boys in it are me. If I set out to make an autobiographical film, and if I had Malick's gift, it would look so much like this. … There is a father who maintains discipline and a mother who exudes forgiveness, and long summer days of play and idleness and urgent unsaid questions about the meaning of things. … The film's portrait of everyday life, inspired by Malick's memories of his hometown of Waco, Texas, is bounded by two immensities, one of space and time, and the other of spirituality. The Tree of Life has awe-inspiring visuals suggesting the birth and expansion of the universe, the appearance of life on a microscopic level and the evolution of species. This process leads to the present moment, and to all of us. We were created in the Big Bang and over untold millions of years, molecules formed themselves into, well, you and me.
And what comes after? In whispered words near the beginning, "nature" and "grace" are heard. … The film's coda provides a vision of an afterlife, a desolate landscape on which quiet people solemnly recognize and greet one another, and all is understood in the fullness of time.
Review of The Tree of Life (2 June 2011) http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110602/REVIEWS/110609998