Rand Richards Cooper at Commonweal:
Is there a contemporary director who can match Terrence Malick for enigmatic genius? A summa cum laude philosophy major at Harvard, then a Rhodes Scholar, Malick was a philosophy professor at MIT before changing course and enrolling in film school. His long career—the filmmaker is seventy-six—has featured a sparse filmography, an abiding unconcern for critical or popular acclaim, and a mid-career hiatus, during which he disappeared from public life while reportedly laboring on a masterwork, to be called Q, exploring the origins of life on earth from the Big Bang onward. His first, short film, the twelve-minute Lanton Mills (1969), is essentially kept under lock-and-key at his behest by the AFI Conservatory, his alma mater, and only available for scholars to see. Malick is the Thomas Pynchon or J. D. Salinger of directors, and the dreamily elliptical quality of his movies has only added to the luster.
In his academic years Malick was a translator of Heidegger—and the links to German Romanticism, Nazism, and Heimat that have complicated the philosopher’s legacy could be said to form the deep background of A Hidden Life.