Andy Elijah’s review published on Letterboxd:
There should be a warning before every Terrence Malick film: WARNING: You are about to enter a purely visceral world. Ye who enter seeking anything resembling narrative structure or plot, abandon all hope. God help the poor saps who went to this one thinking "Oh let's go see the new Christian Bale."
But fuck it, four stars. Even with Malick well past the point of self parody (imagine an SNL skit making fun of this style...which only a few people would find remotely funny), he still manages to make gorgeous films that impact the brain in a pre verbal way- entering through side and back doors, lulling is into submission as we find ourselves swept up in their internal logic. I found this one to be almost Lynchian in its subconscious-like connective tissue, and then saw that Lynch's man Jack Fisk was behind the production design. Of course.
I got distracted though in wondering to myself- "how the hell do you act in a Terrence Malick film?" His characters are not characters at all really- and they don't act a thing like real people. But in a way they do- we all wander around in a hazy fog of rumination and isolation from time to time, wondering about our place in the world and whether or not there's some greater meaning to all of this. He makes his actors move like children- prancing around and slowly pawing at their surroundings, innocent and naive. It's as if he's instructed the actor's inner child to do the performance, not the actor themselves. It can be maddeningly bizarre on one hand- or on the other, just right.
The movie is a true feast for the eyes and ears, and the mind as well.
PS- I had to laugh during the credits because so many actors who I love I either didn't notice were in this, or were only in it for a blink and you miss them glimpse. Nick Offerman, Kevin Corrigan, Dane DeHaan, Joel Kinnaman, Shea Whigham, etc. and apparently Nick Kroll too, but I'm not convinced he was really there.