Luke McCarthy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Uses it's sunset tinged evocations of classical Americana to explore and subvert the supposedly noble notions which seem to drive it's illusive protagonists. Malick's work is always built upon the way man, nature and 'God' seem to circle around each other in unspoken ways, and by positioning this struggle within an era where these ideas seem to be at their most poetically potent, he creates a film which feels timeless in a way few other can capture. Formally it's also perfectly realised, the film taking place in seemingly constant dawn, adding a painterly elegance to the already classical narrative - there's also a new-found freedom of movement which has come to define Malick's later work, a camera which seems to glide around it's characters, searching for a sense of intimacy which can only be achieved through this ethereal approach (a welcome addition after Badlands stagnant compositions).
Throughout, Malick chooses to focus on the way the metallic, smokey machinations of industrialisation seem to be slowly changing the landscapes of America, painting these now ubiquitous tools as something alien and out place within the nature he so elegantly captures. All of this contributes to the film's melancholic fatalism, a feeling that the long-lost world which these characters are surrounded by can no longer remain the way it is, what begins as a quiet, nostalgic exploration of love and work in 1900's America slowly corrupted by fire, folly and greed (the biblical overtones also broaden the film's thematic scope).
A work which feels utterly rich in ideas, but one that is so purely experiential that letting yourself get lost in its effervescent rhythms is just as pleasurable as trying to analyse them. One of the great American movies.