Van Sant seems unsure of what kind of movie he's making or what he's trying to say. It's best to just enjoy the scenery and look the other way.
No wonder Watts rules the movie. She's playing the only remotely sympathetic character; the men seem consumed by grief and guilt and platitudes.
The Sea of Trees uses depression, cancer and suicide as manipulative devices to tug at heartstrings instead of offering insight into the human condition.
A numinous meditation on grief that's more likely to inspire laughter than tears.
A stronger movie experience than one might expect. It's anchored by a fine, understated performance by Matthew McConaughey and a deeply felt, if at times melodramatic, story that proves strangely immersive.
[A] soggy mess of a movie ...
McConaughey and Watts seem to be reading from a tired script of unhappy, protracted matrimony. The dialogue feels rehearsed, and not in a good way.
This is Van Sant's nadir: a sophomoric metaphysical drama that benefits from the director's pictorial eye (the forest looks fittingly ominous), but succumbs to the sentimentalism that has long been his Achilles' heel.
This risibly long-winded drama is perhaps above all a profound cultural insult, milking the lush green scenery of Japan's famous Aokigahara forest for all it's worth, while giving co-lead Ken Watanabe little to do.