Rick is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, California. While he's successful in his career, his life feels empty. Haunted by the death of one brother and the dire circumstances of the other, he finds temporary solace in the Hollywood excess that defines his existence. Women provide a distraction to the daily pain he must endure, and every encounter that comes his way brings him closer to finding his place in the world. The film is divided into eight chapters (each named after a tarot card, except for the final chapter Freedom), plus a prologue, each loosely based around the central character's relationship with somebody in his life..
Let's get one thing straight; Terrence Malick's films aren't exactly everyone's cup of tea. They're arguably the most unconventionally crafted movies from a well renowned director out there. Audiences normally criticize him for being highly pretentious and having no meaning in his work. But for some, his films represent everything we love about the artistic medium of motion pictures. With his latest offering, "Knight of Cups", Christian Bale stars as a screenwriter eager to explore his seedy persona in the dreamlike whereabouts of LA.
The film swoons along with a plethora of illusory montages, with Bale being Malick's primary focus as he trudges through the streets of downtown L.A., bizarre nightclubs swarming with vibrant dancers, house parties exclusively for the rich and meditative walks through the desolate wastelands of the Las Vegas desert. For the majority of the film he cuts a forlorn figure, basically looking to find some sort of significance of his life and finding the answer to faith. And in typical Malick fashion, none of what we see on screen is straightforward and we're left to determine our own meaning on the gorgeously composed images. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki once again has a vice like grip on how to bring an ethereal visual lyricism to surroundings.
Malick is one the very few directors who really embraces the beauty of artistic filmmaking. They may not follow a clear cut narrative, but there's no doubting that there's an alluring poetic rhythm that's present in his films. The key is for the viewer to figure out what Malick is attempting to portray. And even if you can't, just go along for the experience. Simply put, if you enjoy his films, you'll most likely find some sort of reward with this.
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