Today, out of the blue I figured that I should go watch a Terrence Malick film for the first time. I chose his latest, and I’m starting to think that I started off with the wrong film of his.
Like any other film of his, in ‘Knight of Cups’ Malick lets his beautifully photographed images speak for the story, sucking you in for a unique experience while the narration allows you to contemplate on the images that you see.
The imagery he so proudly presents are poetic and have something to say for themselves. Malick’s plot focuses on a man enslaved by Hollywood and him trying to create an escapade for himself as a form of redemption for his shortcomings in life. He shows this idea through a collection of vignettes that take us through his day-to-day from his perspective; all shot with the intention to captivate through Malick’s signature visual style. It is basically an ethereal representation of a man searching the meaning to his life, and the film gives that a taste of justice with Malick’s obsession for mouthwatering photography. The cast gave simple and decent performances and added a little extra flavor to the strangeness of it all. It wants us to get emotional about the protagonist played by a static Christian Bale, but the film just falls flat in doing that. As much as we want to, we have nothing left to do but wonder as to what this film is trying to tell despite its utter poignant thrust towards its definition of the message it conveys. Trying not to get consumed by boredom, perhaps the rightest thing to do when viewing this movie is to just closely look at what is being shown onscreen, analyze what the pictures are blurting out and make sense out of it because really, there is nothing else that the film seriously wants us to do than just that. It forcefully demands us to observe to let us have a deep respect for what Malick is trying to do.
It sure sounds challenging, and it indeed is mainly because most of the time it’s as if Malick is telling us to completely open our minds and not mind the exaggerated weirdness which is honestly a little hard to overlook in spite of it looking all artistic and whatnot. Artsy as it may look like, on occasions we are almost led to believe that it is a mockery of Malick himself; reaching to the point that he almost wants us to construe it as such. At some point, it even feels like the art is just acting as a distraction for a plot that is virtually absent even if the film makes it out to be just deep and profound. Admittedly, it can get a little exhausting and hard to get into. Even more so, it seems like there is something a little too hard to comprehend judging by the manner it lays out its narrative. The message it’s trying to convey may get a little too pretentious and overly contemptuous, but the mere fact that everything occurring seems naturalistic and makes you feel like you’re going through the life of this person gives the plot a whole new meaning if seen and interpreted correctly; creating a relatable feeling for some and contributes to the pros of this beguiling new feature from Malick. Overall Knight of Cups may not be everybody’s cup of tea in terms of it being a little too artsy even for Malick standards, but nonetheless it deceives us into thinking that it is wallowing in a deep storyline that can be hardly felt. The plot isn’t badly written whatsoever, it’s just that it needed a little refinement to leave us utterly compelled.