Walking into a Terrence Malick film is pretty much the opposite of a box of chocolate, you pretty much know what to expect. With “The Tree of Life” and “To The Wonder” a precedent has been set. Malick is in wonder with seeing the beauty in everyday life, and with effortlessly editing blended images and voiceover to tell his stories. With “Knight of Cups” that does not change, only the actors do this time.
Rick (Christian Bell) is a writer who has a lot to ponder in life. From the looks of it he is pretty successful in both life and love. That happiness does not stop Rick from going through life like with a “what does it all mean” look on his face. Told through a series of encounters, with both family and women we see what he sees. While things are fair with both his father Joseph (Brian Dennehy) and his brother Barry (Wes Bentley), there is some strain there because of the death of another brother. Rick’s love life is doing a lot better as he seems to have no problem meeting beautiful woman which he shares his time with along with spending his time in Los Angeles, mostly it seems in nice houses and at the beach, but also can wonder around Las Vegas. With an unknown amount of time passing, we see the world through Rick’s eyes, and his story through his relationships.
With Malick, who wrote and directed “Knight of Cups” there is no questioning the beauty in the film. While the visuals are very appealing the film stumbles with it’s narrative, as Malick relies on the images to move the story forward. Bale is good, especially since he plays a man with little to say. The film has plenty of actors that show up in quick cameos, and it is kind of fun trying to pick everyone out. “Knight of Cups” has an “art project” feel to it and actually at times feels more like Malick was trying to create a particular kind of art instead of a film. I enjoyed what Malick created and appreciated the beauty, but I was also at times lost at what was trying to be said, especially during a robbery scene that does not fit the film at all. Overall the view was enough for me to forgive the lack of a story, and while a film like this isn’t for everyone, and at times not for me either, “Knight of Cups” should be judged on it’s cover and not what it is on the inside.