‘Cinematic notebook’

Another intriguing experiment in film from Terrence Malick

Opens Friday, May 6. Pageant Theatre. Rated R.
Rated 4.0

Terrence Malick (Days of Heaven, Thin Red Line, The New World) continues with his current pattern of free-form, feature-length image-musing. Knight of Cups rebounds to something more riveting and substantial than his previous release, To the Wonder (2012), but not quite to the revelatory levels of inspiration in The Tree of Life (2011).

There’s no conventional story or plot here, apart from a kind of open-ended, free-associative focus on the musings, memories, wanderings and peccadilloes of a disaffected filmmaker named Rick (Christian Bale). It all makes at least some sense as a stream of consciousness account of an adventurous creative soul in crisis.

And it might also be taken as a kind of cinematic notebook, a miscellany of sights, sounds, brief statements and quotations: images and thoughts that might spark the creation of radically new movies (and selves?).

Rick’s relationships figure in the action as well, especially those with his ex-wife (Cate Blanchett), his very conflicted lover (Natalie Portman), his ailing father (Brian Dennehy) and his wildly angry brother (Wes Bentley).

The decadent ambience of daily life in the vicinity of Hollywood’s big spenders is a recurring factor as well, which may be why Malick stocks his crowd scenes with Tinseltown celebrities and then gives them no special notice.