Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life' debuted Monday to dramatically mixed reactions at the Cannes Film Fest, with some calling it "a wank" while others praised it as "magnificent." The film, which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, was met with both boos and a round of applause at a packed press screening.

"It's a very sad and beautiful...wank? The ultimate refutation of narrative? An interminable tone poem?" tweeted Hollywood Elsewhere columnist Jeffrey Wells.

Salon's Andrew O'Hehir tweeted, "If the cosmic astronaut god-baby at the end of '2001' could come back to Earth and make a movie? It would pretty much be 'Tree of Life.'"

Those responses are almost identical to the reclusive director's film 'Days of Heaven,' when it debuted at Cannes in 1978, with The New York Times printing, "Its visual power and its photography were generally praised, but absence of a coherent, fully developed story was lamented."

Malick's slowly paced war meditation 'The Thin Red Line' met with similar reviews in 1998, but went on to be nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

categories Movies, Festivals