Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups

Movies about emptiness almost always end up empty themselves. Knight of Cups falls into that whole too often to be great, but in the moments it succeeds, it's a truly graceful and beautiful work. The way Malick treats Las Vegas, contrasting its airy lack of reality with both the weight of the desert and an art museum, speaks to what this film could have been. It's not that it's a particularly revolutionary point to make: who doesn't look at Las Vegas and think of it as a pale but shimmering imitation of a real place? But in Malick's hands, it's less a point being made and more an exhausting truth. It's when he lets the truth reveal itself that Malick is at his most powerful, but throughout most of this he appears to be trying too hard to coax the truth from a place where it is often in short supply.

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