starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Wes Bentley
written and directed by Terrence Malick
by Walter Chaw Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups is an obvious companion piece to Sofia Coppola's Somewhere and Fellini's 8½, and a less obvious spiritual companion to the Coens' Hail Caesar!, Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, and even Fosse's All That Jazz. Its most direct influence is John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, with Malick borrowing phrases entire from its text along with its sense of wandering, seeking, and the pilgrim meeting various incarnations of sin and redemption on the road to salvation. Malick, as has become his hallmark, places people against images of eternity. In Los Angeles, the only external nature he can find is the ocean, and so he sends his "Christian" (Bale), playing a film director named "Rick," to the shore repeatedly with a succession of women who are incarnations of Bunyan's "Evangelical" and "Faithful" and "Mercy," including his wife (Cate Blanchett), whom he rejects and, if Malick follows form, who will be the centre of another story all her own. Rick wanders through streets, studio lots, highrise suites that are Bunyan's City of Destruction and Vanity Fair and, in a sequence where one guide (Natalie Portman) reveals that she's pregnant with either Rick's child or her husband's, Slough of Despond, before finally discovering peace of sorts alone in the Delectable Mountains of Joshua Tree.