The Sea of Trees

A suicidal American befriends a Japanese man lost in a forest near Mt. Fuji and the two search for a way out.


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  • ★★★★ review by Logan Kenny on Letterboxd

    I am so glad I didn’t die. that I found love greater than any I could have ever hoped or imagined. that I survived my suicidal periods and that I made it out of my traumatic situation. that I manage to live every day in spite of all the pain that’s been inflicted on me. that I can hope and dream and try and live my life for as long as I have it. I am so glad that I’m still here.

  • ★★★★★ review by Ryan Pearce on Letterboxd

    Sometimes, a film just feels like it is speaking to you.

    In 2015, I had a life changing experience: my beautiful 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia. The moment we were told by the doctors, I felt as if the floor gave way underneath me. It was an out of body experience I cannot describe, brought about from shock and grief.

    It's now August 2017, and my daughter is still here, fighting a brave battle. I have had to be brave for her, or at least wear a mask of bravery. My emotions and thoughts flip from one minute to the next: I'm grateful for her still being here, and terrified of the possibility of losing her.

    I also look back now and think about the 2 years before her diagnosis and think about how I acted. I am proud to say, I've always been a loving father. But, like all parents, I guess I have some regrets. I should've played with her more, taken her to the park more regularly. I shouldn't have complained about the lack of sleep, or how many nappies I changed. If there is a positive to come out of the years since her illness, is that I now appreciate every second I have with her, and catch myself before I complain about the mundane.

    The Sea Of Trees touches on this. I connected with the imagery and the emotions throughout the film. I can't for the life of me understand why this received such strong backlash. For me, it's a masterpiece.

  • ★★★½ review by Josh Rosenthal on Letterboxd

    everything is transcendent: people that get lost get found, and people that hurt will eventually heal.

    surprisingly a soothing and very calming movie. the actual sea of trees in this movie is portrayed with such beauty, which was what was missing from this year's The Forest. it's slightly melodramatic and generic at times, but maybe that's just the kind of movie I was looking for. not the best acting from McConaughey, but the overall direction of the movie is what makes it worth it. I know that a lot of people will probably hate this movie, but I found it to be pretty astounding. give it an open-minded shot and see what you think.

  • ★★★½ review by Travis Lytle on Letterboxd

    A film that is as much about the transcendent nature of God than it is its superficial logline, Gus Van Sant's "The Sea of Trees" is an elegant piece of work pocked by its insistence to deliver high drama. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, and Naomi Watts, Van Sant's film blends small-scale production with large-scale emotional and physical landscapes.

    Revolving around McConaughey's Arthur Brennan, "The Sea of Trees" finds the man at his end after experiencing losses that would undo any human being. His story, and that of those around him, is told in nonlinear torrents that reveal motivation and purpose. The narrative builds slowly and follows Brennan as he makes a conscious decision to bring an end to his life. The story, however, finds its strength is what happens after that decision.

    The narrative's drama is loud, but Van Sant creates something that is both evocative and spiritual. Editing, shot selection, and performances build something whose heart is delicate despite the work's outward noise. Locations are lovely, characters are well-drawn, and, although the film's superficial plot points smack of maudlin forced tragedies, Van Sant is able to present a meditation on grief, love, and discovery that finds its truth in something outside a physical realm.

    "The Sea of Trees" may be too sodden for some, but the collective experience of the film is one that is uplifting and, even, inspiring. Van Sant may not be able to fully balance his message with the work's dramatic beats, but he is able to fashion something heartfelt and remarkably fulfilling.

  • ★★★★½ review by Joe on Letterboxd

    One of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen.

    Got that Frank Capra vibe.

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