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:: The Tree

There are some people out there who would label ‘The Tree’ as slow and boring… some reviewers even, but beware of any reviewer who would be so harsh on this beautiful film… as all it shows is a lack of film intelligence. ‘The Tree’ will never appeal to members of the popcorn set, but for those who like their films classy then this is a cinematic experience that you aren’t likely to forget for a long time. This is one Australian film that is enhanced by its touch of European brilliance.

Dawn (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Peter O’Neil (Aden Young) are a happily married couple who along with their children, Tim (Christian Byers), Lou (Tom Russell), Simone (Morgana Davies) and Charlie (Gabriel Gotting) live in a run down country house nestled neatly under a large Morton Bay Fig tree. However when Peter dies Simone believes that her father’s spirit now lives in the tree. So how will she react to neighbor, Mrs. Johnson (Penne Hackforth-Jones) wanting the tree to be removed and her mother’s budding relationship with local, George Elrick (Marton Csokas).

Director/screenwriter, Julie Bertucelli brings a lot of class to a film that is best described as being constructed from a simple storyline. Bertucelli uses nature as a form of ‘symbolism’ throughout the film, in such a way that would be completely lost by most directors. The way she captures the tree and makes it genuinely one of the characters in the film simply has to be seen to be believed. It is not hard to envisage that Bertucelli will have to make an Oscar acceptance one day… such is the skill she displays with this film.

Surprisingly, Charlotte Gainsbourg isn’t as good as what she has been in recent films and here she finds herself easily overshadowed by some brilliant performances from the younger members of the cast, easily led by Morgana Davies who certainly has a promising career ahead of her. Marton Csokas also puts in a fine effort in a role that he would have to have known would have been an unpopular one with the audience. Due to his character set-up Csokas will be ‘disliked’ by the audience but due to an amazing performance he is one of the things that I left the cinema remembering most about this film.

‘The Tree’ is a slow-moving film but well worth the effort to watch. A great script and some of the best characterisation that you are ever likely to see making for a stunning film that will be etched in my memory for a long time. A beautiful Australian film enhanced by some European cinematic skills.