Robin Solsjö Höglund’s review published on Letterboxd:
I said I would watch every Terrence Malick film last year. I started on the journey feeling confident, got to The New World in November, watched the first hour, paused it..
And now I'm finishing it up.
I'm so torn in two. I feel like Malick is a really talented filmmaker, and he makes utterly breathtaking films with great atmosphere and a unique way of conveying the story..
But the other half of me is just screaming for plot. A part of my brain is just bored to tears, beauty and all, and I think maybe the key is to watch his films at precisely the right time. You need an extraordinary amount of patience and you need to just be able to sit back and let the film wash over you without inherent expectations. I've done it many times before. There are some films (anime films and the films of Sofia Coppola to name a few) that are really heavy on atmosphere and really low on plot and some of those I just adore.
I think it's just this insistent meandering voiceover that gets to me. Even without that it might actually be easier to watch his films - just let the beautiful images speak for themselves? I'm really not entirely sure.
I'll tell you this though: I'm 100% straight but Stupid Sexy Colin Farrell may have knocked me down to 99%. So there's that? 😂
I really don't know what else to say. Visually and tonally, yes, his films really are off the charts beautiful and special, but yet.. in the traditional plot driven filmmaking sense, there is no forward momentum, none. Characters just float slowly from moment to moment, happenstance after happenstance. Things do occur, but characters almost never speak of motivations, goals, plot, anything of the sort. It's just vague philosophical or romantic musings on the situations they're currently in. He's amazing at "stop and smell the roses", but my brain already works that way, so for me that almost screeches things to a halt for three hours. It's like being trapped in an empty room with no stimuli but a few pretty pictures. Lovely at first but eventually it drives me ever so slightly insane, haha. Again though, maybe it's just about the right time and place. Maybe all Malick films aren't "Friday night movies", but rather "Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea and my thoughts" type experiences. I still intend to continue but I'll try to pick my moments to watch the rest.