SF Gate

There will be few halfhearted reactions to Terrence Malick’s grandly ambitious new film, “The Tree of Life,” which last week was awarded the Palme d’Or, the Cannes Film Festival’s highest prize.

Partisans of the director, one of American film’s few genuine visionaries (“Days of Heaven,” “The New World”), will see it as a deeply moving, poetic meditation that addresses classic spiritual and philosophical questions with sublime images and minimal dialogue. Viewers of a different temperament will find it self-important and arty in the worst way.

The cast includes Brad Pitt as the authoritarian father, Bay Area native Jessica Chastain as his wife and Sean Penn as the grown-up son. Chronicle Movie Critic Mick LaSalle calls Pitt’s performance one of the actor’s finest.

Pitt spoke by phone from Los Angeles.

Read more.