Eli Hayes’s review published on Letterboxd:
Terry Malick knows that half of those who
view this film will dismiss it as artless drivel,
yet he fearlessly continues his quest of deconstructing
the narrative, and deconstructing, and deconstructing,
until we're left with tone poems of the grandest sort,
masterfully shot and editing to flow
most perfectly from beginning frame to end.
You've got balls, Terrence; people tend to be wary
of works that expand the visual art form
(obviously unknowing that this expansion is taking place)
because they are unsure of whether abstraction,
rather than concreteness, is capable of creating
poignancy and pathos, and so they doubt.
But how sure you are, and how marvelously
you communicate your soulful wishes and
societal desires to the general populace.
Those who are willing to embrace your abstract
ways will find greater meaning in these partially-veiled
audiovisual experiences than most films with
clearly defined plots and significances.
Because your films, Mr. Malick, are
self-applicable, experiential, and defined
by one's own misadventures and endeavors.
I too struggle, so deeply, with impulsivity,
with testing the waters of goodness and
taking part in excessive behaviors: abuse of substances,
abuse -- though not literal -- of interpersonal relationships,
abuse of privilege. And I too had a complex relationship
with my father, who is now deceased; I felt that
he could not understand me, nor could I he.
Yet now that he's gone, I realize he's the only person
who ever could have understood me, and now here
I stand without him, my own father, my own damaged anchor,
my loneliness now my drunken and inept guide.
I'd like to enter the film industry,
more than anything in the universe,
but I fear the world in which it exists.
I fear that doing so will only bring out,
even further, the flaws that I've already touched upon:
my inability to say no, my fear of commitment, my strained
relationships, my isolation, my half-shattered spirituality.
It's films like these that give me hope,
though I'm hesitant to refer to Malick's
post-hiatus works as merely films.
To me, they are more so --
similarly to the filmography of Andrei Tarkovsky --
sacred texts, timeless verses, rhythmic & formal songs of light.