edaz’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is the first Malick movie I could not connect with. And that's deeply upsetting for me as a filmgoer.
It's not that Knight of Cups is lacking philosophical or spiritual transcendence. There are moments of cinematic beauty and wonder. An impassioned speech on why we suffer or the notion that hell is unable to piece together the many aspects of ones life. These are points the film articulates quite beautifully.
Cups is also a sensual film. The women on display here are gorgeous but studied as these otherworldly creatures. There is something to be said about the objective beauty of the women that fill the film but I'm not sure what Malick is getting at.
Ultimately though, Cups is a portrayal of wealthy malaise. and that's a tough concept for any viewer to buy. Oh look how bad the screenwriter has it...especially when the film is rendered in such sensual and enticing images. The disconnect is tough to articulate but it frustrates me in a way many of Antonioni's films dealing with the mega-rich frustrate me.
Knight of Cups at its worst moments is boring. Not because of its static images or pacing Christian Bale or gentle murmurs. It's boring because these motifs have been perfected, so fully explored, in Malick's other work. We are retreading thematic and aesthetic ground covered before.
And yes it can be argued that many auteurs, Malick being one of cinema's true spiritual leaders, make the same movie over and over again. Knight of Cups, however, feels like a regression because the emotions don't soar to the heights that they did in other films.
This too is interesting. Few movies now offer introspective experiences. And Knight of Cups is just that, an deep inward musing. But perhaps Malick has probed too far and forgotten to bring his audience with him.
I'm sorry to have to write all this Mr. Malick (I hope you don't get a Twitter notification of my dissatisfaction with your newest work). Because even at its boring worst moments I admire you as an artist and as a person. They all can't be great movies though.