PacificBeliefs’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I wake up... And I've forgotten about it for a few minutes... And then I remember"
Terrence Malick makes films that are dense with hints, clues, allusions... They are philosophical investigations - He poses questions for us to consider, mull over, really chew upon. It is not for us to be fed but to hungrily process.
And here there is plenty to process: helicopters and earthquakes seem to be messengers sent from a folklorish father to his adrift son... Are they warnings? Monitoring? Protecting? What also of the stream of ladies that dart in and out of Rick (our protagonist's) life? They seem like wingless angelic emissaries trying to direct his straying route. We see brides in flux - Leaving... Travelling... Arriving.
The whole film feels like a trial... with a constant stream of character witnesses attesting to the state of mind and soul of Rick who, himself, starts to resemble one of the dogs snapping at sinking balls in the glitz, grime, and grace caked (cess)pools of Hollywood parties and desolate backlots.
But the film doesn't just take place in a jaded and hollow urban sprawl... Malick is keen to juxtapose natural and manmade environments. A sense of disconnect from nature seems to create a sense of loss and displacement, mislaid bearings and an all too familiar numbing bind. What if we remove ourselves from the distractions of lit screens, demanding noise, and urgent vibrations?
Zen motions to keep us afloat.
Names are asked, given, forgotten... Invented.
Through the gorgeous cinematography of night-lit swimming pools, creeping deserts, dragging waves, and insidious nightclubs we are tempted and invited to consider each image as allegory, as metaphor, as a way of understanding the world of this character... And, therefore, the world of ourselves.
Tolkien wrote that "Not all those who wander are lost" perhaps, then, it follows that those who are lost must wonder...