VIFF 2010 Review: The Tree

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The Tree

Charlotte Gainsbourg has made another movie in which a tree plays a large role. Now don’t go running off yet, this new film is thankfully devoid of terror and mutilation though it does still feature Gainsbourg suffering, this time from the death of her husband.

Julie Bertucelli’s The Tree stars Gainsbourg as Dawn, a mother of four whose husband has recently died. She’s depressed and the kids are all dealing with their loss in their own way: Charlie, the youngest, who doesn’t speak, Lou who is mostly keeping busy with his friends and Tim who is looking after the kids and working while preparing to go off to University. And then there’s 8 year old Simone who thinks her father is living in the tree in the backyard. Though at first Dawn thinks Simone is only imagining her father in the tree, she too comes to take comfort in the idea that her husband’s spirit is nearby but as she adjusts to life without him and starts to move on, the tree seems to have a mind all its own and a series of events threatens to break Dawn’s family apart.

Bertucelli’s film which is adapted from a novel by Judy Pascoe is a very sweet and gentle story of family, death and mourning. Though the story could easily fall into the Hallmark movie of the week, the film features a wonderfully nuanced performance from Gainsbourg (always fantastic), a great turn from Marton Csokas (who I always think of as the bad guy) as Dawn’s love interest and a star making performance from Morgana Davies as Simone.

Captured by cinematographer Nigel Bluck are the gorgeous, dream-like landscapes of rural Australia that, combined with the quiet story and strong performances, culminate into a beautiful and touching film.

See VIFF screening schedule for show times.

Trailer tucked under the seats.


Marina Antunes
Fassbender for life.