Knight of Cups – Film Review by Conor MacNamara
Director: Terrence Malick
Writers: Terrence Malick
Starring: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
“See the palm trees, they tell you anything is possible” – what?
Whatever Knight of Cups is; it struggles to justify itself as a film. Lacking any plot, arc, or even character names, the film requires an IMBD search to so much as learn the basic story structure – evidently the hour and 58 min excursion had other priorities.
In a sentence, it’s a film of comfortable white people whining about their problems (whatever they may be). Our protagonist (played by Christian Bale) is an unnamed wealthy playboy whom we never receive any information about. He is at once on a Hollywood movie set (yet doesn’t work in the movie industry), to being in a New York office lobby (yet doesn’t work in an office). His primary character trait seems to be piddling about in the background of beautiful restaurants and parties feeling sorry for himself, and wandering barefoot down beaches, again feeling sorry for himself. The result is a character whose lack of depth serves only to infuriate the audience, with even Christian Bale appearing genuinely lost at times as to what he should be doing or feeling in any one scene.
Don’t look for salvation in the dialogue, despite its ceaseless drone throughout the film it never seems to find the time to explain the plot. All we as an audience are privy to is that this is a world of beautiful people in beautiful settings who speak solely in warbling metaphors and aphorisms, when they’re not chucking daisies at homeless people in their self-satisfied spirituality.
But maybe I’m wrong. This may not be a film at all, and thus above the qualifications of a humble reviewer. This is simply an experience, in all its self-satisfied nausea.
The one saving grace of the entire ordeal is its cinematography, orchestrated by the award winning Emmanuel Lubezki. But Dramatic camera pans and time lapses down rural highways does not a story make, and the exemplary work of Lubezki only serves to highlight the utter vacuum in every other aspect of the film.
Simply put, it is an example of the worst side of film making: it sidesteps the need to construct plot, characters, or engage the viewer in any way, such is the level of its ‘art’. No doubt it will be critically successful.