‘Knight of Cups’ will destroy your mind and make you beg for more


courtesy of collider.com

Terrence Malick’s newest film is an outrageous journey of love, fear, and vulnerability.

Coming off a strong performance in the Academy Award-winning comedy drama The Big Short, Christian Bale returns to the big screen in a role which is, although extremely different, still equally, if not even more impressive. Also starring Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman, Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups is quite literally visual poetry.

This film is a film in the truest sense of the word, yet it simultaneously defies any logical aspect a film should possess. Films are both made and watched with an expectation of reaching a goal at the end. However, this film disregards completely the idea of any accomplishment or feat at the end of the story. It would even be fair to say that the film disregards any idea of the need for a story at all. It’s a jumble of pictures, sounds and emotions.

At times the lack of plot is infuriating. It just seems so arbitrary and even arrogant to make a movie in which almost nothing happens. This is, of course, how it seems at first glance. But in reality, everything happens. There is love, pain, beauty and poetry. The film has depth, and although it might seem like a pretentious whiff of hot air, and although there might actually not be anything to prove it otherwise, Knight of Cups is quite a grand film.

The hero of the film isn’t Bale or Malick but now three-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. For a film which depends so heavily on quick shots of the city and lots of camera movement, there is no man better for the job than “Chivo,” who is without a doubt one of the most brilliant cinematographers of all time. It’s especially impressive considering all the camerawork is improvised and there are no preconceived instructions. The way in which Lubezki captures Los Angeles on camera is like nothing seen before. It’s perfect in a way that doesn’t make LA seem overly-glamorous or overly-ghetto. It feels authentic in its gritty yet grand style, making the film more of an ode to Los Angeles than anything.

The film stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman.
courtesy of collider.com
The film stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman.

There is an obvious sense of deep personal longing in the film itself. The scattered nature of the film reflects what is most likely Malick’s own search for meaning or reason in the world we live in today. There are moments when it seems like the film itself might just explode from being so loose. Bale admitted in an interview with Fandango that there was no script, rather that there were a series of scenarios in which his character Rick found himself. Malick merely suggested some lines for the characters to say, but it was ultimately up to their own judgements whether they said it or not.

Reportedly, none of the characters knew who they were playing or what they were going to be doing that day. Not even Bale’s character, who plays the lead role, had any sort of fixation in the plot.

The sounds of the film are also quite mesmerizing. Blending the sounds of the city with a superb soundtrack turns out very favorably for the full cinematic experience. Most of the words spoken in the film are voiceover rather than direct dialogue, often times leaving it up to the viewer to decide whether the words are actually spoken out loud or in the mind of the character. The unique quality of this film is that any aspect of it could stand for itself on its own. The sound is therapeutic in its own right. So are the images and the colors and the dialogue. Together they sing a harmonious song of painful melancholy, but alone they stand as poetic genius.

It’s a bit difficult to adjust to this film initially because it’s so unlike any other film ever created. It requires a certain level of the audience willing to give in and accept the film and try to communicate with it on a very personal level. It isn’t impossible to enjoy, but it is very difficult. This is definitely the kind of movie you have to watch a few times, preferably right after each other. And my guess is that the more you watch it, the more it’ll start to feel like a close friend than a despicable stranger.

Rating: 7.6/10