Knight of Cups04 Apr 2016
I didn’t connect emotionally with this film as much as Tree of Life, but I think that’s partly because this film is about midlife crises. I haven’t had one of those yet. To me, it is the work of a man looking back at a midlife crisis. Maybe Mallick went through a crisis like this himself, or more likely, he is telegraphing the crises of Hollywood men around him, but generally we get a picture of a man trying to fill his life with things he thinks will help him. With women, mostly. But also with partying and work. All the while we get some beautiful imagery and a fluid, captivating score. And a hopeful ending that solves his problems largely by just asking him to “begin.”
I’m not entirely sure about this point, but there’s a possibility that Mallick in the last few years has started making films every 2-3 years instead of every 8, and each has some anxieties about modernity at its core. Perhaps by churning films out this way, Mallick is exercising his anxieties about modernity through the most modern of mediums (or at least the most capitalist), production. Perhaps his way of coping with a world from he feels largely alienated is to lean in to the alienation. The problem with this theory is that we can’t really know if it’s the case until he’s done making films. Until we can look back on eras in his work and consider this era we’re in as a whole. That’s the inherent irony in any organizing theory about the present, we need the distance of time to know if it holds up. What I can say with a little more confidence is that Mallick is not entirely at home in the modern world. And that is something he shares in common with many millions.