Knight of Cups (film)

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Knight of Cups
Knight of Cups poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Terrence Malick
Produced by
Written by Terrence Malick
Music by Hanan Townshend
Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki
Edited by
  • Geoffrey Richman
  • Keith Fraase
  • A. J. Edwards
Distributed by Broad Green Pictures
Release dates
  • February 8, 2015 (2015-02-08) (Berlinale)
  • March 4, 2016 (2016-03-04) (United States)
Running time
118 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English

Knight of Cups is a 2015 American experimental film[2] written and directed by Terrence Malick and produced by Nicolas Gonda and Sarah Green.[3] It stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, Brian Dennehy, Freida Pinto, Imogen Poots, Isabel Lucas, Teresa Palmer and Wes Bentley. The film premiered in the main competition section at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2015. The film is scheduled to be released on March 4, 2016, in the United States by Broad Green Pictures.[4]

The story in Knight of Cups is loosely inspired by and at times quotes directly from both the 1678 Christian allegory The Pilgrim's Progress, and the passage Hymn of the Pearl from the Acts of Thomas.[5]

The title of the film refers to the tarot card, the Knight of Cups.[6][7]


A screenwriter living in Los Angeles tries to make sense of the strange events occurring around him. While he's successful in his career, his life feels empty. Haunted by the death of one brother and the dire circumstances of the other, he finds temporary solace in the Hollywood excess that defines his existence. Women provide a distraction to the daily pain he must endure, and every encounter that comes his way brings him closer to finding his place in the world.[8]

The film is divided into nine chapters, plus a prologue, each loosely based around the central character Rick's relationship with somebody in his life. Every chapter is named after a tarot card (as is the title of the film), except for the final chapter Freedom.

I. The Moon - Della (Imogen Poots), a rebellious young woman.

II. The Hanged Man - His brother Barry (Wes Bentley) and father Joseph (Brian Dennehy).

III. The Hermit - Tonio (Antonio Banderas), an amoral playboy.

IV. Judgement - His physician ex-wife Nancy (Cate Blanchett).

V. The Tower - His boss, and revisit of brother and father

VI. The Sun - Helen (Freida Pinto), a serene model.

VII. The High Priestess - Karen (Teresa Palmer), a spirited, playful stripper.

VIII. Death - Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a woman he wronged in the past.

IX. Freedom - Isabel (Isabel Lucas), an innocent who helps him see a way forward.



In November 2011, it was announced Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale and Isabel Lucas had been cast in the film, with Terrence Malick directing the film.[9] It was also announced the film would be-shot-back-to-back with Weightless, with production beginning in 2012.[9]


In 2012, Isabel Lucas, Wes Bentley, Christian Bale, and Teresa Palmer were spotted on set filming.[10] In February 2014, it was announced Joel Kinnaman had shot a day on the film, and had a 17 page monologue.[11]


The film spent two years in post-production.[12]


In May 2013, the first image from the film was released featuring Portman and Bale.[12] The film premiered in the main competition section at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on February 8, 2015.[13] Shortly after, Broad Green Pictures acquired distribution rights to the film.[14] The film had its American premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on February 7, 2016.[15] The film is scheduled to be released in the United States on March 4, 2016.[16]


Knight of Cups has received mixed reviews from critics.[17] On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 50% approval rating based on 16 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3 out of 10.[18] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on eight critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Justin Chang of Variety called the film "flawed but fascinating" and a "feverish plunge into the toxic cloud of decadence" as Malick offers a "corrosive critique of Hollywood hedonism".[19]


  1. ^ "Terrence Malick's 'Knight of Cups' Gets a Long Synopsis and a Runtime". February 2, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  2. ^ Smith, Nigel M (February 8, 2015). "Berlin: Christian Bale and Natalie Portman on Making 'Knight of Cups' With Terrence Malick". Indiewire. Retrieved January 3, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Knight of Cups (2014) - Cast and Crew". Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  4. ^ McNary, Dave. "Christian Bale’s ‘Knight of Cups’ Gets March Release Date". Variety. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "Berlin Film Review: ‘Knight of Cups’". Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  6. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2015-02-08). "Berlin 2015 review: Knight of Cups – Malick's back! With the least interesting spiritual crisis in history". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  7. ^ migration. "Terrence Malick's Hollywood odyssey Knight of Cups sets Berlin fest alight". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  8. ^ Han, Angie (February 2, 2015). "Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight of Cups’ Sounds Very, Very Terrence Malick-y". Slash Film. 
  9. ^ a b Lodderhose, Diane (November 1, 2011). "Bale, Blanchett to star in two Terrence Malick pics". Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ Dew, Blake. "Teresa Palmer Joins Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups". Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (February 11, 2014). "Joel Kinnaman Says He Shot One Day On 'Knight Of Cups' And Had A 17-Page Monologue". Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (May 15, 2013). "Cannes First Look: Terrence Malick's 'Knight of Cups' With Natalie Portman". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Berlinale 2015: Malick, Dresen, Greenaway and German in Competition". December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  14. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 12, 2015). "Broad Green Confirms Terrence Malick Deal Starting With ‘Knight Of Cups’ – Update". Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (January 12, 2016). "Christian Bale’s ‘Knight of Cups’ Set for U.S. Premiere at Santa Barbara Festival". Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight of Cups’ Won’t Get U.S. Release Until 2016; ‘Weightless’ to Be Retitled". The Film Stage. June 20, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b "Knight of Cups". Metacritic. Retrieved December 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Knight of Cups". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ Chang, Justin (February 8, 2015). "Berlin Film Review: ‘Knight of Cups’". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2016. 

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