In The Tree of Life, Jessica Chastain plays Mrs. O’Brien, a loving but stern housewife in 1950s Texas. The film is primarily told from the perspective of her child, who sees her reverentially. While that may not sound all that life-changing, those who’ve seen the film may be able to understand why Jessica Chastain feels the way she does about it. Like most Terrence Malick movies, The Tree of Life feels more like a rumination on the purpose of existence than anything else. It’s mostly a slice of life story, showing how the main character, Jack, grows up while observing his mother’s kindness, often at odds with his strict father’s approach to parenting. Though not a lot happens through the segments of the movie that feature Mrs. O’Brien, the movie still paints a poetic and sometimes hauntingly intimate picture of what it feels like to grow up.

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