The Knight of Cups is a tarot card that represents a messenger. It also signifies energy, drive, imagination and creativity – and a commitment to use one’s imagination to enhance the world. Some believe tarot cards have the power of prophecy. In practicality the cards offer life lessons.
The protagonist in the film “Knight of Cups,” a screenwriter, has indeed lost sight of his role as a messenger. He has busied his daily life with the hectic details and egotistical showmanship of the entertainment industry, hiding his pain deep inside. Longing for balance, he “checks out” of the mundane realm and begins a journey. We, the audience, become his passengers in a search that takes us on a trail through his earthly habitat. We wend our way through the ingenious “castles” and “pathways” that have been constructed in this world. Our search connects our outer surroundings with our inner feelings. You must surrender yourself to let the camera be your eye in order to truly experience this film. Through the work of the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (and the work of some of the cast who were given Go-Pro’s to use during the shoot), you will see things as if you are a child, a wanderer, a troubled spirit. The Earth is the main character here. It envelops us with its beauty, its images both disturbing and calming. Gorgeous vistas of Southern California segue into the faces of suffering homeless people and other inhabitants of our surroundings. You will flow through these images as if you were floating down a river. Composer Hanan Townshend’s score surrounds the experience with emotion.
Christian Bale carries the movie with hardly any dialogue – only his thoughts are voiced. The other cast, including Cate Blanchett, Brian Denehy, and Natalie Portman, pass through Bale’s character’s life and lead him to greater understanding of himself. Bale reported that director Terrence Malick gave the actors neither script nor direction, and liked to surprise them. He loved to capture accidental brilliance.
This is not a film with a story line – it’s a completely different language. Think of it as a cinematic James Joyce novel. To enjoy it, let go of preconceived notions of film format. Keep in mind that Malik graduated from Harvard summa cum laude with a degree in philosophy in 1965. A deep thinker, Malick has been making films since 1969, yet he took several years’ hiatus from that career to teach philosophy in Paris. He lives and creates his art entirely on his own terms.
“Knight of Cups” will be a personal journey for each viewer. Many of the images that are familiar to me, those of the places where I live and work, may seem exotic to others. I was able to lose myself in this film. I surrendered to it, and as it ended, I felt strangely calm and lucid. OK, I’m weird. Check it out for yourself. Perhaps you will comprehend Malick’s cinematic language. Perhaps you will find it baffling. All will agree this movie is unique.
Rated R, Run time: 118 Minutes, Released March 4
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. firstname.lastname@example.org. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com.