Self-indulgence. So this a plotless movie about a man wandering the streets of L.A., sometimes going to his apartment, and occasionally seeing family members and friends. I’m just going to be upfront and come out and say it: I really hated this movie. It is a complete waste of time, and I am always extremely reserved to bust out with the word “pretentious”, but if there has ever been a movie where it would be applicable, this is the one. NOTHING happens in this movie. It is literally Christian Bale, wandering around, occasionally starting to have a conversation before being interrupted by his own voice-over, and that is it. If that isn’t pretentious, I don’t know what is.
Look at Bale, pretending he’s on the cover of a Christian rock band’s album cover.
The most interesting thing about this movie has very little to do with the movie itself: the trivia page on IMDb is downright fascinating. Here are the most interesting bits: 1. there was no script, and everything was entirely improvised, 2. Per Bale, Terrence Malick didn’t tell any of the actors what the film was about, 3. Bale had no lines to learn, and Malick only gave him a character description, and 4. Malick used a technique known as “torpedoing”, where he unexpectedly sent people into a scene to try and get more authentic reactions from his actors. If you are scratching you head as much as I am, fear not, as you are not alone. The end product is just as harebrained as the above techniques detailed above, and it is practically unwatchable.
There are a LOT of shots just like this one.
Knight of Cups is an incoherent mess, and it is a chore to watch. You can’t call something art just because you have a bunch of whispering voice-overs while your actors wander around on the beach. I don’t blame any of these actors; of course they would jump to work with a renowned director like Malick. You can only do so much when you have so little to work with. Christian Bale really is an avatar for the audience because as he is ambling around, you can tell that he is waiting for something to happen, much like you are as an audience member, sitting antsy in your seat. What makes this even worse is that this is not short; this is a full two hours, and because there is literally nothing happening in this scriptless non-story, it only feels all the longer. Cinematography can only take you so far, and this is an impenetrable Goliath of a bad art film.
Knight of Cups (2015) *
– Critic for Hire