Victoria Jelinek

The Tree (L’Arbre)

When her father dies suddenly, eight-year-old Simone tells her mother that her dead father speaks to her through the leaves of her favourite tree, a huge Moreton Bay fig. But when her mother, Dawn, starts a relationship with George after he’s called in to remove the tree’s troublesome roots which are going to wreck the house, the bond between mother and daughter is threatened.

This sounds like a  ‘downer’ of a movie, but it’s not. The notion that there is a spirit within the tree is nicely played out and leads to some lovely moments for members of the family, who are all ‘getting on with their lives,’ but who are also coping with their respective loss. French director Julie Bertucelli handles the material with compassion and sensitivity that is, in the French manner, developed slowly; she also draws good performances from her cast (inclusive of the wonderful Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Filmed in Queensland, Australia, the cinematography in The Tree is gorgeous and complements this tale of grief and recovery by using nature as a metaphorical and literal character; the stunning landscapes that fill the screen are evocative and marvellous.

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