jeremydiem99’s review published on Letterboxd:
"The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough." - William Blake
When I'm quiet I can hear it, a world outside my own, a collective calling, a peaceful serenity, a spiritual eternity, a soulful connection, a longing for something more. It's tiring to be caught up in the material world, a world of excess, a world of lust, a world of pride, a world of conflict and struggle, a world of earthly pleasures. I've lived a life of very selfish desires, anger, hate, and lustfulness, but I always know there's more to me, more to life than the way I live.
The noise of life blocks it all out. Sex, violence, drugs, and excess are all constantly thrown in my face. This is the way of the Western world, this is the way of man, but there is a much greater path to walk, a path of serving others, a path that fulfills the desires of the heart while also taming the desires of the flesh. Since my youngest days, I've lived for myself, I've looked at women lustfully, seen them only as physical beings, I've been selfish, taken things that belong to others, I've been cruel and damned others while I stood tall and lived a life of cheap luxury and excess.
Despite doing things for myself, I have never lived a very satisfying or fulfilling life. Instead, my journey has been marked with a great deal of pain, suffering, loneliness, and isolation. The only times I've been able to overcome that were through moments of spirituality and a connection with something greater than myself, the collective soul of man and the spirit of God. Maybe I'm not religious in the traditional sense, maybe I'm not even a Christian in the traditional sense, but I believe despite my many negative and selfish actions, I do have a heard for others and a hope for a better tomorrow (not just for me, but for all). Malick seems to have walked down a similar path as mine, as all of the character's in his films are wanderers, lost, looking, searching for something.
No, they aren't searching for anything physical, they are all on a spiritual quest, whether it be in the midst of war, through the loss of innocence, or even in the loud, overbearing depths of sex and parties in Hollywood. I've never lived the life of Rick (played by Christian Bale), I've never been a famous screenwriter, I have not been with multitudes of beautiful women, and I have never attended the luxurious parties and lived the glamorous lifestyle he does, yet I do find his character endlessly relatable.
Malick allows his character's to be infinitely complex while at the same time being blank-slates we can project our own personal life experiences onto. It's a beautiful and wildly brilliant storytelling technique that allows you to walk side-by-side with his characters on their journeys. 'Knight of Cups', Malick's 7th feature film, explores many of the same themes explored in his previous two films ('The Tree of Life' and 'To The Wonder'), yet also evokes the beautiful imagery, slow yet tantalizing pacing, and vivid scenes that he has been known for for nearly his entire career.
I always find its odd and random (though, nothing is random in a Malick film) that stick out to me the most in his movies. Certain fleeting shots, quite, secluded imagery, and and quick lines of dialogue, and while 'Knight of Cups' never quite reaches the highs of Malick's career, it still is better than 90% of movies out there, and, as per usual, makes a simple story, endlessly complex and beautiful, entangled and layered with meaning.
As Rick travels down his path with the many women of his life, he learns different lessons from each of them, all helping him to evolve into a man who is ready to start over, who is ready to be washed away of a meaningless past and move into the future. What is he moving towards by the end of the film? I'm not quite sure...Could it be a better relationship with women, a stronger and more grounded spiritual life, or even a life committed to bettering others (not just himself).
Maybe you don't believe in God, maybe you do, but to enjoy this film, it doesn't matter, as long as you are looking for something, searching for a better life, a new and improved world, then you can relate to the protagonist's struggle. This film, however, is not without its flaws, there were a few scenes that seemed to drag on, and, at other scenes that seemed rushed, but the beauty here is undeniable. Malick has moved up to be in my Top 3 filmmakers of all-time, and the spiritual soul-searching of his characters never ceases to amaze me, even if this may be his weakest film thus far.
I want to move on, I want to begin again like Rick, but sometimes its hard to revive an already dead life, a previously deceased soul, but the beauty around us in the world is undeniable, its nice to look around and enjoy it, and enjoy the connection we have with others. People are worth so much more than their physical appeal. I apologize if this review is too preachy, but this film, like all of Malick's works, means a lot to me, and I felt like pouring my heart out in this review, and, as said previously, you don't have to be spiritual or religious to enjoy this, you don't even have to be a Christian, but the Christian symbolism runs deep, and Malick's story dating from creation to death is truly something to behold.