What exactly is Sean Penn's issue with The Tree of Life? I'd be more sympathetic if Penn hadn't already done The Thin Red Line with Malick; that film evolved so famously during its making (changing focus from one lead actor to another) that Penn couldn't have imagined that the script he read would be a shot-for-shot description of what wound up on screen. I hope Penn's Oscar for Milk and his political activities haven't gone to his head. Must all his roles have capital-M Meaning? Malick is already making plans for his next film and so far there's no word of Penn's involvement. The two may have made their last movie together if Penn has lost the ability to turn up and be an actor. (Guardian)
Speaking to Le Figaro, Penn, himself an award-winning director, criticised the film's offbeat structure and admitted that he was unsure why he had been asked to join the cast.
"The screenplay is the most magnificent one that I've ever read but I couldn't find that same emotion on screen," he said. "A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact. Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing there and what I was supposed to add in that context! What's more, Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly."