6/10. Beautifully shot but too long for its own good.
A Hidden Life is the latest film from renowned experimental writer-director Terrence Malick and while it makes for an amazing cinematography, the story takes three hours too long to finish.
What’s remarkable about the film is that not only does it revolve around the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, who defiantly refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II, this could very well be Terrence Malick’s most structured and accessible film. I say this because compared to his other works (Tree of Life, Knight of Cups) which feel more dreamlike and work as poetic films, A Hidden Life follows a very straightforward and linear plot.
Which is actually quite refreshing because although his films are masterfully created, with almost every shot looking like a painting, they can be quite difficult to follow or even interpret and as a result, they’re not for everyone.
However, while A Hidden Life is easy to watch because of how straightforward it is, it’s also ironically difficult to sit through because the length of three hours doesn’t feel justified for such a straightforward plot. There are several scenes that feel like they drag on for way too long and had this film been edited down to two hours, I might have enjoyed it much more.
What saves the film is its beautiful cinematography.
There are numerous scenes that look like they were magically created because the environments that are captured seem so vibrant and alive. I often found myself lost gazing into the spectacular scenery of mountains, fields and even the rural farm life. I’m not quite sure how his films manage to accomplish such amazing feats, but kudos must go to his team and especially his director of photography.
Ultimately, A Hidden Life is a feast for the eyes. You don’t have to stay around until the end to enjoy or guess what is going to happen but if you do, I have no doubt that you’ll continue to enjoy the amazing visuals that are on display. See it.
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