Knight of Cups review

Terrence Malick serves up another dose of his masturbatory pretentiousness with this woeful piffle concerning a Hollywood screenwriter (Christian Bale) at a crossroads in his life. He says hardly a word as he moons about LA looking blankly constipated at times. He’s merely an empty vessel in which to view the la la land environs.

Visually it’s very assured of course. Malick’s painterly eye renders the soulless city with striking images of beauty, but it’s hardly enough to keep one engaged for two hours.  Much happens to boring Bale and he meets a fair number of characters though – his apartment is hit with earthquake rumblings, he hooks up with hipster Imogen Potts, attends a party hosted by Antonio Banderas (Jason Clarke and Ryan O’Neal among others make fleeting appearances as fellow guests), he cavorts with lithe young topless and naked girls, reminisces about his ex wife (Cate Blanchett), spends some time with Frieda Pinto as a gorgeous model, visits Las Vegas with comely stripper Teresa Palmer, argues with his angry brother (Wes Bentley) and tortured father (Brian Dennehy) and has a fling with troubled Natalie Portman.

If you think that brief description is appealing then beware – dialogue is kept to a strict minimum but that’s a positive. It’s mainly whispered over the images but what you hear is ludicrous psychobabble. The performers who had to spout this nonsense should hang their heads in shame. Not once is there anything to latch on to in order to make anything here remotely compelling.

Knight of Cups is in the same mould as Malick’s previous two efforts with its lush photography and minimal script. It’s certainly not as awful as Tree of Life, a movie so far up its own arse as to defy belief, but nor is it as palatable as To the Wonder which at least had a spirited turn from Olga Kurylenko that made it almost watchable. The visuals alone here never send one to sleep – after all, the women featured look stunning – but the movie just washes over you without leaving any impact. It’s an arid exercise devoid of value that is not worth your time.

Doug Cooper is a Screenjabber contributor

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