Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
The Tree (2010) is a mystical and comforting film about dealing with profound loss, along with the struggle to adjust and move forward.
The movie focuses on a massive fig tree, where a young husband and father has died after a sudden heart attack in his truck. His daughter, Simone, who was in the back of the pickup when her father collapsed and ran into the tree, becomes convinced that his spirit resides in this force of nature. She climbs up and camps out on the embracing limbs during all hours of the day and night to find solace and continue conversations with her father.
Morgan Davies’ Youthful Wisdom: Choice to Be Happy or Sad
Played with complete self possession, Morgan Davies imbues the young girl’s role with complexity, conveying the struggle to cope with this life-shattering loss. During wise talks with a friend, she astutely describes the choice to be happy or sad. With spirited conviction, Simone declares that she has chosen happiness, even though she is troubled during most of the film.
Talented Charlotte Gainsbourg: Nuanced Portrayal of Coping With Grief
Scenes with Simone trying to get her desolate mother out of bed capture the 8 year old’s role reversal as she helps dress her mom and comb Dawn’s hair. As her half-asleep and reluctant mother agrees, Dawn (who the talented Charlotte Gainsbourg shapes in a nuanced portrayal) also starts to feel connected to her husband while curled up against the tree’s massive roots.
Fascinating Camera Techniques Treat the Tree as a Central Character
Fascinating camera techniques used to film the tree create a central character guiding this sometimes other-worldly film. Through light and shadow, closeups of bark patterns and shots of roots and limbs encroaching and destroying the home become symbolic of the husband’s and father’s death.
Marton Csokas Conveys Compassion and Frustration in Complicated Situation
As part of the healing process, Dawn slowly starts to re-engage with life. After taking a job to support her family, she begins to bond with her new boss, George. The perfectly cast Marton Csokas plays the plumber with realistic and alternating moments of compassion and frustration. He patiently tries to help Dawn deal with her grief, chop down the dangerous tree and cope with the rebellious Simone, who is openly resentful of their relationship.
Christian Byers Portrays a Young Man With New Family Responsibilities
Christian Byers plays Dawn’s older son, Tim, with complete naturalness. His delivery is perfectly on point, as a young man stretching to assume new family responsibilities. As an integral part of this intuitive and cohesive ensemble, he similarly moves through crises as well as happier family moments while jumping massive waves of grief in a thoroughly credible performance.
Power and Fury of Nature: Movement Through Dark Tunnel and Emergence Into the Light
Like a good book that conveys more than the words on a page, The Tree is a divine film. The movie captures the power–and fury–of nature, along with a family’s search through a dark tunnel and emergence into the light.