Terrence Malick is back once again to either blow our minds or pontificate annoyingly about the meaning of life with A Hidden Life, which premiered this week at Cannes to plenty of aplomb and excitement. As the dust settled from the applause, Fox Searchlight scooped distribution rights to what is said to be a contemplative WWII film full of insightful metaphor and meaning (or BS and nothing, depending on what you think of Malick’s work). It’s a pretty big grab as both Netflix and A24 were looking to get the movie as well, and it now means a theatrical release will actually happen.
The film tells the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer who refused to cooperate with Nazis, eventually being turned on by his own community, imprisoned, and executed. Really uplifting, life-affirming stuff, you know. It seems right up Malick’s alley and if the festival reviews are too be believed it is really, really good. Then again, a lot of Malick’s stuff is proclaimed to be stunning and then doesn’t connect with general audiences. I myself am incredibly ambivalent towards the director, in case you couldn’t tell. He does some amazing stuff but it just gets carried away sometimes, like nearly all of his work since The Tree of Life. Though, A Hidden Life does look more grounded than his recent work.
Fox Searchlight is probably looking for some awards with this one. Considering it’s Malick making a WWII film that’s a pretty good bet. It’s basically tailor-made for Oscar bait, and there’s a chance it will be incredible. They have to be banking on prestige because a three-hour film with an actor no one has heard of isn’t going to get very far on Malick’s name alone.