NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, March 2, 2016, 4:00 AM
Cate Blanchett is a physician who can’t heal her broken marriage to Christian Bale in Terrence Malick’s new film.
Writer and director Terrence Malick has gone from reclusive to prolific.
His latest opus, “Knight of Cups,” borrows its title from a tarot card. The character from the fortune-telling deck is known for being restless.
Except for die-hard fans of Malick (“Days of Heaven,” “The Tree of Life”), and Oscar winner Christian Bale, who stars as a Tinseltown casualty, audiences are apt to get ants in their pants enduring the movie. It’s visually sumptuous but laborious. Worse, it’s pretty humorless. “Knight of Cups” takes itself very seriously.
A deep disembodied voice gets things going, recalling the ancient tale of a dutiful knight sent by his father in search of a priceless pearl. The son loses his way after drinking from a chalice that sends him into a deep sleep.
Get it? Some things never change. Rick (Bale, believable and low-key) is a Hollywood hotshot screenwriter who drives sexy cars, dates beautiful women and — insert yet another grave voiceover — has no sense of who he is.
Christian Bale plays a hotshot screenwriter who’s lost his sense of self in “Knight of Cups.”
“All those years, living the life of someone I didn’t know,” Rick says aloud to himself. That’s how Rick communicates. There’s precious little dialogue.
We follow Rick through streaming episodes. Rick walks through the desert. He survives an earthquake. He air-kisses at pool parties where Antonio Banderas pops up in a cameo role. Rick ambles through studio backlots and is told by his agents how great he is. Blah, blah, blah.
Rick deals with his hotheaded, seemingly disturbed brother (Wes Bentley). He takes heat from his judgmental father (Brian Dennehy, stately even when he’s stooped over). And mostly Rick wades through erotic encounters. There’s a free spirit in a pink wig (Imogen Poots); a perky stripper (Teresa Palmer); a bewitching model (Freida Pinto); a married woman (Natalie Portman); and Rick’s ex-wife (Cate Blanchett), a doctor.
Giving structure to a meandering movie, encounters are preceded by a tarot card — “The Hermit,” “The Moon,” “The Hanged Man,” “The High Priestess.” The scenes are episodic. They come, they go. They make little impression. Just like the movie.