Knight of Cups is a Terrence Malick film: elusive, beautiful, suggestive of an autobiographical account of a spiritual exercise.
If the main reason you go to the movies is to be entertained, you will probably not enjoy this. While departing my screening, I overheard one fellow theater goer say after powering his phone: “Wow, that was only two hours.”
On the other hand, if the idea of sitting back and letting the cinematic equivalent of a tone poem wash over you sounds appealing, this may just be your cup of tea. Just be aware that what’s presented is the experience of someone trapped midway on their journey through life, rather than a tale of someone finding their way out of the dark woods. The protagonist seeks distraction or meaning from six different romantic relationships, but the promised of an initial voiceover we don’t see a pilgrim’s progress, but a cyclical repetition of similar circumstances.
There is very little narrative, about 75% of it is shared in the trailer. On the other hand, there is a surfeit of arresting images: of Los Angeles, of nature, of the striking women that Christian Bale’s character has relationships with. Some people will complain that these women are manic anima dream girls, without motivations or a well defined personality. At the same time, we learn almost nothing directly about the protagonist, his family, or anyone else in the the film, so I don’t know that it would be fair to see Malik as treating the female characters particularly instrumentally.