Rick (Christian Bale) doesn’t speak or interact much, in fact, you might experience the back of his head with equal duration to his face yet it is every step that he takes that will truly matter. Rick is trapped in a cathartic universe that he has to let go in order to truly find himself. There is a lot of subdued anger but the characters who matter to him are direly trying to let him know that he has a soul and that they have witnessed him love. In many ways, there are hints of suspicions that his childhood might’ve played a part in his modern depression and an inability to manoeuvre himself out of his hurtful past. The film is a puzzle to a point where a spoiler would become a key to unlocking an understanding for the film. Yet, it isn’t hard to decipher that with every step that Rick takes, he is embarking on a cathartic journey. One might not remember any shot, scenes or dialogue from the film. One might not even know the character’s names if they didn’t pay assiduous attention. But that isn’t to say that Knight of Cups is forgettable. In fact, Knight of cups is everywhere. One might find him or herself realizing that they are truly not themselves when they are laughing and drinking at a party, but discover their real consciousness when touching a piece of rock in a deserted mountainous area, feeling that sensual touch of existence. One might even find relevance with that inner thought of expression towards their loved ones.
The film is shot in relatable modern places that are the every day suburban malls or a memory from one’s trip to an exotic location. Knight of Cups might feel like a dull trip until a lonely cathartic walk or the feeling of pain in a relationship or a solitary getaway in attempt to escape everyday issues. In truth, there’s nothing that can explain Knight of Cups but it is a film that doesn’t need explanation. A correct moment of intellect at a certain point of a person’s life might be the key to understanding Rick’s universe. Knight of cups doesn’t feel like a great film or a rubbish one but it has its own place as a unique subconscious experience.
However, interestingly, there’s a suspicion that Knight of Cups could be an end to the recent Malick style that was developed since Tree of Life. Badlands signalled the masterpiece that was to come in Days of Heaven but his next two films, The Thin Red Line and The New World were fantastic transitions to the modern Malick who transformed his cinema into poem that broke all laws.
Knight of cups is a combination ofTree of life and To the wonder in a sense that the essence of the film is about Rick’s (Christian Bale) salvation from the pains of his childhood and his love. Both themes were each explored in depth with separate films before and this combination that mashes up into Knight of Cups feels like a third and final instalment to the Malick “subconscious” sense of cinema. One should especially look forward to Radegund and Weightless, Malick’s next film that could signal a change or transition in his style.