Knight of CupsBerlin Film Festival 2015
Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups features as one of the most anticipated screenings of the Berlinale 2015. The film sees us follow Rick, played by Christian Bale, on a disorientating journey towards fulfilment and satisfaction as he grapples with his own perplexing reality amidst the apparent emptiness of hedonistic Los Angeles.
The city features almost as one of the principal protagonists, allowing Rick to grope towards some understanding of his life amidst apparent wealth and transient relationships. Like his tarot card, the knight of cups, he is an adventurer and a romantic though set against the Hollywood void he isn’t able to reconcile his need for realisation.
Malick capably uses the city to evoke a man longing for something within himself, moving from lingering shots of empty apartments to drunken visions of LA parties with great style. This urban bubble is offset by a beautifully selected array of dizzying desert panoramas that systematically interrupt Rick’s almost semi-conscious meander through a series of relationships and other life events.
The camerawork, paired with the musing narration of Bale and others, appears to let the audience in on a day dream or distant reflection. Malick’s ability to build the atmosphere in which Bale portrays a drifting and alone soul is worthy of great applause, though its 118 minute running time leaves the question of whether or not it could have been achieved more succinctly.
The late introduction of Natalie Portman adds a touch of softness against the backdrop of Rick’s other love interests, though doesn’t serve much to reduce the intensity.
Throughout the two hours Rick seems to repeatedly regret his lost vision of what and who he wants to be, dropping into fantasy to evade reality and, as such, Malick, Bale and Portman come together to create something memorable. They guide the audience through a cityscape that provides little relief to a traveller looking for the answers to life’s biggest questions in a film that jolts from the mesmerizing to the bizarre.
Knight of Cups is released in the UK on 1st January 2016.
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Watch the trailer for Knight of Cups here: