Artful musing or pretentious philosophising? Terrence Malick’s work tends to split audience opinion along those lines – and his latest feature, Knight of Cups, will surely spark that debate once again. Sadly this reviewer found the film to be tedious and strangely inert, despite the presence of Christian Bale and beautifully shot images of hedonistic Los Angeles.
Lacking in coherent narrative or story arc, Knight of Cups feels rather airy and slippery. Bale is tasked with playing a successful Hollywood screenwriter named Rick, who finds himself disconnected from the Tinseltown party scene and pondering his various relationships, including his lovers (among them Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Freida Pinto) and family.
While tales of self-discovery and emotional fulfilment can be moving and profound, Knight of Cups fails to rise above dull navel-gazing. For nearly 2 hours, a disenchanted Rick floats through extravagant mansions and clubs in a daze of numbness, with the occasional flashback to his childhood or a rendez-vous. In true Malick fashion, most of the dialogue is in the form of disjointed voiceover rather than conversation, and the actors try their best to appear pensive as they stare out into space. Even the normally fierce Cate Blanchett seems confused about her direction!
Put simply, it’s enticingly packaged but ultimately unrewarding.
Knight of Cups is out in cinemas now.