Tree of Life Scratched From ’09

Thursday, Oct 15, 2009

Cross another possible contender off your Oscar ‘09 ballot: Terrence Malick reportedly won’t have his decades-in-the-making The Tree of Life ready to go by the end of the year. The film features Brad Pitt as the father of a boy whose lost innocence haunts him as he grows into a man played by Sean Penn. As per Malick’s usual, it’s highly conceptual, rigorously crafted and now indefinitely delayed.

Anne Thompson offers the scoop, passing along word from Malick’s distributor at Apparition that the filmmaker — a notorious perfectionist and recluse for whom Life would be only his fifth feature in 35 years — has vanished into the editing room for at least the rest of this year. (He usually takes more than a million feet of film along with him, which tends to, well, protract the process.) It’s not mentioned whether or not Apparition might be tight on funds, but I doubt it; they literally just opened shop with Bright Star (which isn’t lighting up the art-house box office, but still), and they have only Black Dynamite and The Young Victoria left for ‘09.

Don’t count on an outside shot at Sundance, either; this has a Cannes’ 2010 competition premiere written all over it, naturally followed by another Riviera rendezvous between Pitt and Ann Curry, whose inquiry as to whether the actor would ever symbolically adopt Penn as his real son if given the chance will be met with stony, awkward silence.