Since debuting at the Berlin International Film Festival last February, not a great deal has been heard of Terence Malick’s highly anticipated film The Knight of Cups. Today some new images from the movie have been released, showing predictably melancholy moments between members of the talented cast.
The Knight of Cups is a non-linear story about a Hollywood playboy with a string of excruciatingly first world problems. Terence Malick (The Tree of Life) has built a reputation for creating abstract films with a bewildering lack of narrative structure where story line is counteracted by indulgent and emotive scenes which only purpose seems to be the creation of an otherworldly atmosphere that builds to… emptiness.
It cannot be denied that Malick’s films are poignant and beautiful. His unabashed favoring of form over function appears vacuous on the surface whilst somehow examining all of our deepest philosophical questions about life and death. They are an ode to existential crisis. Malick films are dividing, audiences find his work either incredibly profound or utterly pretentious.
The Knight of Cups is his latest offering. The cast is stellar, the setting is L.A, the reviews are mixed. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) plays Hollywood script writer, ‘Rick’, who is deeply unsatisfied in life despite his wealth, success and beautiful girlfriends (plural), played by Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later). The cause of Rick’s depression is apparently unclear, there is a dysfunctional family, a dead sibling and a failed marriage to Cate Blanchet but none of these issues are examined closely enough to justify the depth of his malaise.
The movie appears to be a comment on the superficial frivolity of capitalism but coming from a director whose penchant is stunning cinematography, Rich’s world is glamourized through his lens, counteracting this implication. The lead character just doesn’t sound particularly likable and his crisis is too contrived to inspire sympathy. When you strip away the narrative conventions of story telling and ask a viewer to go with you on a journey of disorientation, an identifiable character to connect with is vital. If the critics are correct, this issue could derail the film’s appeal. See all of the images below.