Knight of Cups ★★★★½

It is thoroughly shameful how we treat Terrence Malick.

Seriously.

He bares his soul on film and we laugh at him, mock him and—in our overinflated sense of self-worth and underdeveloped sense of curiosity—tell him that he's devolving in his old age.

And we bitch and moan that cinema is dying. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Knight of Cups is the third part of what is now clear to be Malick atoning. What began in The Tree of Life as an exploration of why he is the way he is, and continued in To the Wonder, isn't necessarily concluded here but certainly adding to it. Malick is looking to make amends in a true sense—to fully understand himself and the nature of his sins—but to whom? God? Ex-wives? His family? All of them? That remains to be seen. Or maybe it's clearer to him than it could ever be to us.

If Malick's late work is guilty of any sins of its own, it's that maybe it is too personal. But don't mistake that for solipsism. He's a man coming out of his shell, but first trying to understand how he got in that shell in the first place. And is producing some of the most intimate and complex cinema we've ever seen.

Make no mistake, it's not him. It's us.

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