Directed by Terrence Malick
Even assembling a cast whose reputability is beyond doubt, Terrence Malick doesn’t guarantee sufficient depth in his latest drama, “Knight of Cups”, another dreamlike and highly derivative account that unfortunately never offers more than a few opaque insinuations in its attempt to describe a Hollywood screenwriter called Rick, played tepidly by Christian Bale.
In terms of approach, the film showcases too many similarities with the interesting “To the Wonder”, Mr. Malick’s previous, but this time around, it lacks the guidelines to orient us in a satisfying way, and the intensity to make us feel something more than an overwhelming numbness. In such a way, that I simply couldn’t care less for any of the characters.
The vague mystery introduced as a premise, a tale of an oblivious prince who left his country to find a pearl in the deep sea, simply vanishes in the crescent torpor of the narrative. It’s the Hollywood's monotony that reigns in detriment of Rick’s external stimulations, which are unexciting and shrouded in mist.
We can listen to a repetitively whispered narration whose melancholic tones become irritating along the way. The viewers will often feel misplaced, and rarely sympathetic with the lonely, stray, and womanizer, Rick, who tries to clarify his way of living by evoking former relationships with women (Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Imogen Poots, and more), a vehement father (Brian Dennehy), and a loved/hated brother (Wes Bentley).
Mr. Malick makes use of artsy and haunting techniques (no filters were applied to the images, but the typical sequences may be immediately identified), however, the film loses impact precisely because we’re already familiar with his sleepwalking ways. The settings are comprised of ample interiors of luxurious houses and breathable exteriors, where there’s always room for the sea and a sunbeam coming out from behind a tree. Occasionally, we are transported to buildings where the heights, captured by the agile camera, make us soar almost in another dimension. The volatile script is the weakest point, even including lustful moments, fancy Hollywood parties, card readings, a despairing idea of damnation, an earthquake, as well as abandonments and yearnings. The fluctuation is so acute that is the real world that seems out of proportion. By the end, I beseeched: ‘someone wake me up!’.
Too late… I was condemned to successive yawns before discarding this fake pearl.