I can’t say that I ever thought I’d ever see Terence Malick direct a total disaster. To be fair, The Tree of Life was massively problematic to say the least. But where his last film was an interesting story sabotaged by massive self-indulgence, Malick just doesn’t even have a story here. Basically, Ben Affleck can’t help having all these beautiful women fall in love with him even though he seems to offer nothing in return, an impression made stronger by the fact that he doesn’t really talk or do anything else in this film but glower. First, he meets Olga Kurylenko in Paris. She and her daughter follow him to Oklahoma. It’s a total disaster and they return. Then Rachel McAdams, who he has known forever I guess, does the same thing. Also a disaster. Then Kurylenko comes back. The same. Also, Javier Bardem wanders around as a priest with no clear connection to the rest of the film except that he’s the priest of the church where the characters attend service, talking about loneliness and such.
And there’s a ton of shots of the women twirling. It’s Malick so everything looks beautiful. To his credit, he films this in a Bartlesville, Oklahoma subdivision, not exactly the normal setting of a modern film or an obviously beautiful place. Even the laundry mat looks beautiful (although it’s completely absurd that any very nice new home in a Bartlesville subdivision doesn’t have a washer and dryer). But in the end, this adds up to absolutely nothing. I don’t need a conventional plot. And I don’t mind a slow film. But I do need to see a reason for the film to exist. I have read that Malick is trying to mimic his films on modern dance. And that would explain some things here. It’s lovely to look at but the total lack of character or really even basic plot is an insurmountable problem.