Don't feel bad, Sean Penn didn't really get The Tree of Life either
Sean Penn didn't do any press for Terrence Malick's TREE OF LIFE (though he did make a brief red carpet appearance at the Cannes premiere) and now we may know why. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, he said of the film, "Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing there..."
Penn was his usual outspoken self when asked about Malick's film. I didnít at all find on the screen the emotion of the script, which is the most magnificent one that Iíve ever read. A clearer and more conventional narrative would have helped the film without, in my opinion, lessening its beauty and its impact."
Before you get all oh snap!! on me, Penn goes on to say in the interview that despite his criticisms, it's still a film he'd "recommend" to viewers. Penn mostly seemed frustrated with his own role in the film (Pitt too would admit to being frustrated by Malick's directorial style), saying, "Terry himself never managed to explain it to me clearly."
But no one ever said you work with Terrence Malick to get a warm, fuzzy feeling on set. You work with Malick because you have faith in his vision and his process. The question I would ask Penn is whether he believes the final product validates what he went through as an actor. Pitt would likely answer in the affirmative. Judging on what he says above, Penn might disagree.