Knight of Cups

2015 impressionist drama

Rating: 11/20

Plot: A guy wanders around Los Angeles and Las Vegas in search of love.

Terrence Malick has lost his fucking mind. There's part of me that really wants to appreciate what is happening here with Malick's visual storytelling, the poetic drama, and the impressionistic portrait of a lost soul. Visually, the movie is simply stunning, and I'd have trouble arguing with somebody who wanted to tell me that this is the product of a virtuosic visionary at work.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't add up to anything, and after the barrage of images for twenty minutes or so, you start to realize that most of the pretty pictures don't even really matter. The acting is almost universally stilted, like Bale and company are trying to convince everybody that they belong in an artsy-fartsy movie like this. The Tarot card references zip right over my head and, I'd reckon, the heads of most people. Yet the point of the movie seems easy to grasp, and after spending a little bit of time with this completely unlikable character played by a semi-unlikable actor, you get it just fine and start to feel exhausted as Malick wants you to get it even more. Overlong, exceptionally dry, and about as fartsy as a movie can be, this was about as unpleasant as a movie can be. It really had the feel of a two-hour commercial for perfume or something, the kind with a voice over whispering the name of the product over and over while actors and actresses appear bemused.

A major disappointment, especially since The Tree of Life, a movie with a similar style, was so good. I didn't see To the Wonder, but this makes me wonder whether Malick should go back to his one-movie-a-decade schedule.

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