Terrence Malick’s latest venture “Knight of Cups” is as befuddling as the title suggests. Malick has excavated a specific niche of visual filmmaking in his years as a director but strays a little too deep into his surrealist design. While the film is very visually appealing, the tradeoff is a lack of narrative structure. Not necessarily a problem, this could be offset if that was the clear indication of the film. The problem was that it was unclear if Malick was attempting to convey a story or not.
“Knight of Cups” follows the story of a writer, played by Christian Bale, in Los Angeles attempting to find himself through a series of excursions with several women including portrayals from Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Imogen Poots. He continues through these women without any clear information of what they mean to him or who they are as characters besides surface impressions. The problem with such a heavy reliance on visuals and stylistic editing is that the sacrifice of strong story invokes lack of depth in the film’s characters. Without indications and clues to who they are as people, it is difficult to empathize with them and leaves the audience with minimal care about the film or it’s lead.
Even more noticeable is the fast paced editing style. It’s incredibly unique and visually interesting but gets physically tiring after too long. The constant jump shots and angle changes create a very confusing setting throughout the film and make it difficult to follow what’s on the screen. It wears on the viewer and physically takes a toll trying to keep up with the film. It’s an artistic project and definitely has its merits in that realm, but as a film intended for any audience other than die hard Malick fans, “Knight of Cups” is much more of a miss than a hit.