The Sea of Trees – Review

User Rating: 5
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The Sea of Trees Netflix Movie Review Rating Flixxpanda
Image Credit - Collider.com
Genre Drama
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, Naomi Watts
Released on May 16, 2015 (Cannes), August 26, 2016 (United States)
Duration 106 minutes
Flixxpanda Rating 5/10
Channel Netflix

The Sea of Trees received incredibly bad reviews when it first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Apparently, audiences were booing and people walked out! But the thing is even movies that garner terrible reviews at Cannes do well once they make their way into classic theatres with a more general audience. Sadly, The Sea of Trees wasn’t one of those lucky films. What actually makes it bad?

It features Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts and Ken Watanabe. These are A-list starts, really big names in the industry. So, putting them together should result in a practically flawless film. An excess of talent in front of the camera as well as behind it (director Gus Van Sant has incredible works to his name like Milk) seem to be the wrong ingredients for a successful film. It’s a classic too many chefs spoil the broth maybe?

The Sea of Trees deals with themes like suicide, depression and cancer – this is common ground for director Gus Van Sant, he’s done brilliantly in these areas before. But this one just didn’t sit right. Although the main premises tug at heartstrings and make you feel bad for disliking the movie – that’s all there is to it. Guilt tripping doesn’t make viewers like the movie. It uses the themes as devices to lure you in but doesn’t really help progress the film the way they should.

The movie revolves around main character, Arthur Brennan (McConaughey). He’s lost in life, depressed and can’t seem to find a way out. He buys a one way ticket to Tokyo – more importantly to Aokigahara. This is one of the most well known forests in the world. It sits at the base of Mount Fuji. It’s infamously known as suicide forest – purely because there sadly way too many people who have ended their lives there.

Arthur goes into the forest. As he’s sitting on a ledge preparing to take his medication when he spots Takumi Nakamura (Ken Watanabe). Takumi is suicidal as well, but he’s lost and wants to find a way out of the forest. The two see a kindred spirit in one another and give each other purpose. Arthur decides to help Takumi find a way out. They talk a lot and discover each other’s pasts. It seems the movie is heading towards a good place – except it doesn’t .

We are then bombarded with flahsbacks to Arthur’s past which include an alcoholic miserable wife (Naomi Watts) who is also diagnosed with cancer. She’s a terrible wife and person in general. We then listen to Arthur monologue about himself – so why were the flashback necessary? McConaughey does a wonderful job story telling and it’s a pleasure to listen to him but it’s too much repetition. Add in the fact that they don’t use the themes properly – turning it into a film trying to find the reason for his depression (it’s not a mystery novel!) and you’ve got a tangled, messed up film on your hands.

I’m not going to give away the ending in case you do decide to watch it, but honestly with such a bad music score to pile onto the mistakes the film has already made, you’d be better off streaming something else.

Video Credit – YouTube

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