November 8, 2017

Lost in the world

The Sea of Trees (Gus Van Sant, 2015). “It’s a long, lonely journey from death to birth,” as someone once sang in a much better Gus Van Sant film about suicide. But kill the generic romantic-movie soundtrack and this much-vilified outing might work as a small, introverted parable about grief, loss, failure – all that fun stuff. Alternatively, sometimes you learn that the line between Terrence Malick-ish and Nicholas Sparks-ish can be very thin, and the difference is a guiding, metaphysical intelligence that Van Sant never quite locates. With an underpowered Matthew McConaughey as the suicidal hero, an impressively dark Naomi Watts as his dead wife and Ken Watanabe as the magical Japanese man in the fine tradition of cinema’s “magical negros”.