A Hidden Life reviewed by Mark Kermode

a hidden life which is the new film by

Terrence Malick of I have to say this so

firstly it's a a partial return to form

for Terrence Malick Malick has proved

quite challenging in his recent releases

prince of carp song song which I thought

would just a terrible film I mean

genuinely terrible and I became quite

exhausted by how people because people

who love Terrence Malick we know cine s

will often stand by because what they're

thinking of is they're thinking of

Badlands and they're thinking of the

extraordinary I mean I actually

everything I think up until the Thin Red

Line so I did lose patience with Malick

and this kind of got me back on board to

some extent it is the true story of

Austrian conscientious objector francesc

Tata who refused to swear allegiance to

Hitler during Second World War

interesting as well that this now finds

itself in cinemas around the same time

as as Jo Jo rabbit which again is

dealing with that subject but in a very

very different way film begins with

trans Lee's wife living in a Dilek life

away from conflict tilling the land

laughing loving starting a family this

is very much latter-day Malik you know

handheld camera beautifully composed

fluid images of people behaving in a

sort of natural glow of nature but

clouds are gathering and this being a

Terrence Malick film there are literal

clouds gathering you know that thing is

equal to pathetic fallacy which is when

the weather gets it called that's right

in brings about pathetic fallacy means

like you know somebody is really sad and

ready and it starts raining okay so this

is the kind of you know storm clouds are

gathering and look there are big storm

clouds that are gathering which is one

of the moments in which I felt rather

too on-the-nose so along with the shots

of the trees and the grass and glorious

abundant mountains swayed in mist as

with Malik's cinema particularly

recently there's an extensive use of

voiceover which is facilitated also by

letters written between the two main

characters signature roaming cameras

with voices of wonderment as terrible

things start to replace a lost ideal

here's a clip

when they when we first met you will try

like now I remember that motorcycle my

best dress


you looked at me

and I knew


how simple life was done


it seemed no trouble could reach our



we lived above the clouds so you get a

sense from that you know it's I mean I

think even from just hearing that you'd

know that you're kind of it was it's a

Terrence Malick films beautifully shot

by your Whitmer who'd worked before is a

camera operator with with Malick since

new world scored by James Newton Howard

and there is a very powerful story in

here which is a story about both about

defiance about somebody somebody's quiet

defiance but also about the way in which

religious institutions in the shape of

the church basically fall in line with

something which is wicked and evil in

which the figure of Hitler is referred

to as the Antichrist and yet is somehow

facilitated by the the master nations of

the religious authorities the film was

originally titled radicand which is the

place where where France comes from and

then the new title comes from George

Eliot the Eliot quote is for the growing

good of the world is partly dependent on

unhistorical are not so ill with you and

me as they might have been is half owing

to the number who lived faithfully a

hidden life and rest in unvisited tomb

so the film is a bat is sort of like a

celebration of in much the same way this

hadn't occurred to me till just now it's

the kind of it's it's a wonderful life

thing the celebration of decency in the

face of appalling evil and what and one

of the things that he keeps being asked

is do you think this will make any

difference do you think this will my why

are you doing this because the village

and the town then turn on the family for

for standing up for having a principal

for not falling in line so you could see

it and I know some commentators have as

a commentary on what's happening at the

moment with the evangelical right in

America and you know there's been this

big schism in the church recently when

Christianity today wrote an editorial

about you know we cannot support Trump

because this is actually fundamentally

differing from our own views of morality

and this has become a very sort of hot

topic the thing you need to remember is

that this was shot the shot in shooting

began in 2016 so it kind of like we were

saying in the case of bombshell you

presume that because something happens

in the middle of of of current news

story but it wasn't actually this this

predates that and of course if you know

Malick's movies they don't specifically

they usually don't address single

contemporary issues he's much more in

the market of addressing you know

existential and quasi-religious you know

much more sort of broader themes I have

to say one of the things I found

problematic was that the music played up

the religious spiritual element in a way

and believe me I'm a sucker for that

right I mean I'm an absolute sucker for

it you know two popes two guys sitting

around talking about ontological

existence got you up pretty fine yeah

bring it on absolutely happy but even I

felt a little bit like you know mr.

Malik this scene would be better if you

just turned the soundtrack off and just

had just allowed it to play out I did

find some of that obtrusive I also found

some of it a little bit like some of

Malik's worst work has started to look

like an existential perfume advert and

although this never has that it does

have a sense at times of the indulgence

that I think unhinged some of his more

recent films but it is the best thing

he's done in a long time and it is very

very Terrence Malick

for all the good and bad that that means