Friday, July 15, 2011

“The Tree” – Movie Review



This week in my movie class, we saw an Australian drama called, “The Tree”, based on a novel titled, “Our Father, Who Art In A Tree”. 


When a young woman suddenly finds herself a widow, she is forced to support and raise her children as a single parent – but when her daughter believes her late father’s spirit lives on in an old tree, the woman also develops a similar emotional attachment. 


In her late 30’s, the last thought Dawn O’Neil has on her mind is becoming a widow – but there she is one day when her husband unexpectedly dies of a heart attack while driving their eight year old daughter Simone home one day.  All of a sudden, Dawn now finds herself forced to raise her four children by herself, all the while still mourning her loss.  Depressed and inconsolable, Dawn sleeps in and is hard to roust from bed, leaving the daily chores to her eldest, a teenage son, who soon seeks a part-time job to pitch-in while remaining in high school.  

After a couple of months, Simone believes she’s made a discovery in the imposing, ancient fig tree that’s grown long and hazardous roots in the family’s backyard – her father, she is certain, is actually alive in that tree.  While she can’t see him or hear him, Simone nevertheless believes that they are able to communicate with each other and continue their familial relationship.  Delighted with her discovery, Simone can’t help but share this with her mother, who, of course, is immediately skeptical, but decides to humor her daughter in any event.  Not long after this, however, Dawn finds herself believing Simone and proceeds to develop her own communication with the dangerous arbor. 

Eventually, Dawn is able to pull herself together enough to get a job as an assistant at a plumbing supply shop where she develops a relationship with George, the proprietor.  Once Dawn’s friendship with George blossoms into a romance, Simone immediately becomes angry because she feels as though her father has been forgotten.  However, when it becomes apparent that the backyard tree is endangering not only the entire family but their house as well, will Dawn be able to sacrifice her relationship both with it and Simone to have it removed for everyone’s safety? 


Sure, it would be incredibly easy to characterize this movie as a “chick flick”.  But would doing so necessarily be a pejorative?  I suppose that depends on what the term “chick flick” might mean to you.  “The Tree” is about feelings and spiritual beliefs and – most ostensibly – about how a grown woman copes with single parenthood in a most unlikely setting.  So, is describing it as “a chick flick” trivializing the film?  Not necessarily, I would suggest, particularly, if that was the intended audience of the filmmakers, which is what appears to be the case – and that’s OK, even if it means it’s not my cup of tea. 

While it may not necessarily be the kind of movie that might cause some women to reach for the tissues every couple of minutes, you might find it a nice alternative while your man sees the latest “Transformers” movie.  Am I generalizing?  Yep, I sure am.  Am I guilty of Sexual Profiling?  Ya, you betcha.  Not apologizing for either one, by the way.  When movies are made, some of them are designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, while others are targeted to a specific demographic; this one fits into the latter category.  Did I love it?  No – I had issues with how quickly and easily Dawn abruptly changed from doubter to believer.  Also, I thought there were too many characters in the story, leaving some to be under-developed or undeveloped; additionally, some of the dialog is a bit clunky, as you might pick up from the trailer, below. 

Prior to the screening, our instructor re-interviewed director Chris Weitz, who was there to follow-up on the interview he gave us when we recently screened his latest movie, the wonderful “A Better Life” (please click here for the review, just in case it missed you).  Weitz went a little more in-depth about his background, describing his close relationship with his brother, four years his senior.  Having a similar sensibility in their youth, they went on to collaborate writing stage plays and screenplays in adulthood; Weitz said that his older brother had greater discipline for the craft of writing, which is why he went on to some success as a playwright. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak Your Piece, Beeyotch!