Knight of Cups (15) ****
After the online debate as to whether Beyonce’s “Lemonade” promo owes a stylistic debt to wisened white dude Terrence Malick, here’s the real thing: two hours of classical allusions, breathy narration (“Desire is so deep”) and pristine images, underpinned by a nagging unease at the ways of the universe. Upfront, Christian Bale’s Rick follows in the heavy, soul-sick footprints of The Tree of Life’s Sean Penn and To the Wonder’s Ben Affleck, striving to escape tangled family relations via encounters with a succession of airy-fairy L.A. women (Cate Blanchett, Freida Pinto, Natalie Portman).
As ever, the styling runs perilously close to perfume-ad territory – pushing Ennui, for a man or a woman – yet the director’s found an all-seeing soulmate in genius cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, The Revenant). Unleashed on Tinseltown’s dazzling light and twisted architecture, his relentlessly questing camera exudes a rare fascination with everything from pelicans to supermodels. You’ll emerge admiring Malick’s continued commitment to moods and emotions, or convinced you’ve undergone the prettiest midlife crisis in Christendom. Either way, while you’re in the moment with it, Knight of Cups is a mesmerising thing to behold.
Knight of Cups opens in selected cinemas from tomorrow.