Pompous, pretentious, and ambiguous are the first three words that come to mind when attempting to describe “Knight of Cups.” This incoherent, visually self-important and bloated film from director Terrence Malick is one of the most trying films I’ve ever had to force myself to sit through. Its lethargic pacing is torturous; its lack of a clear plot is maddening.
From what I could discern, the ‘plot,’ and I use that term loosely, centers around writer Rick (Christian Bale). Rick isn’t a very nice dude. He likes to spend his days doing drugs and hanging out with gorgeous women poolside at The Standard hotel. As with most Malik films, Rick has an uncomfortable relationship with both his brother (Wes Bentley) and his dad (Brian Dennehy), and he has an endless parade of ladies in his life. I think the film is attempting to take the viewer on a series of exploits with these different women, including a wild child (Imogen Poots), his physician ex-wife (Cate Blanchett), exotic model (Freida Pinto), a past heartbreak (Natalie Portman), an innocent (Isabel Lucas), and a stripper (Teresa Palmer). The laundry list of acting talent is impressive; too bad the director is so narcissistic that he all but wastes these performers.
I don’t think I will be able to write a meaningful review because honestly, I didn’t really get the incoherent message of this movie (and I was a huge fan of Malick’s “Badlands” and “The Thin Red Line,” and “The Tree of Life” ranked at number 2 on my Top 10 Best Films of 2011). “Knight of Cups” is far too long and far too maddening to make any sort of lasting impact. This isn’t lazy filmmaking: it’s lazy storytelling.
There’s not much going on here but a cacophony of indecipherable obscurity that’s masquerading as high art. I struggled to get through this film, and you will too. If someone makes the attempt to sing the film’s praises, be forewarned that they are just blowing smoke and attempting to exude sophistication and intelligence. This movie isn’t good and don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
Matt was unavailable for review.