Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sydney Film Festival 2010: The Tree

"It's not a tree, it's an octopus!"

My second film of the festival, which I saw at the magnificent State Theatre was also the closing film for the Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Julie Bertucelli and starring Charlotte Gainsbourg which you might remember from Von Trier's Antichrist from last year (I certainly remembered her, in fact I couldn't get that film out of my head when I was watching this).

The story is about a family living in rural Australia and coping after the sudden death of their father.

Gainsbourg plays the mother struggling to keep the family together and a young actress, Morgana Davies plays the daughter who discovers that the spirit of her father has transferred to the tree next to their house. She talks to him there, plays with him and even built a memorial for him with his belongings scattered around in the branches.

Although we hear the faint whispers of the father's voice, the film never takes the supernatural route instead focusing on the drama within the family. The tree only serves a representation of the father, a tangible entity and  one that literally hovers, protectively, over the household.

The Tree explores the necessary 'moving on' part in the grieving process, and tells a simple story of a family trying to live their lives after a terrible loss.

The film was shot beautifully, having a light, airy feel to it during the daytime and a very dark, quiet atmosphere during the night - which complimented the setting quite well.

But it felt like it was made for television with one person in twitter tweeting that the story is better suited as a novel, not so much as a film. I cannot recall any scene that resonated or became memorable. I feel like I've seen all this before.  The performances were fine, especially by Gainsbourg and Davies. But honestly, I found it hard to write this review because there's really not much to say about it. It wasn't terrible but it was lukewarm.

Screenshots from the trailer.

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